Oil field work can be dangerous. It may surprise you to learn that trucking accidents are one of the greatest dangers in the oil industry. OSHA reports that 40% of oil field workers killed on the job are killed because of a vehicle accident, including trucks. (OSHA, Oil and Gas Extraction).
Despite DOT regulations and certification standards, oil field trucking continues to pose significant risks for workers. Understanding the dangers can help industry professionals identify and implement safety precautions. Injured victims may have the right to compensation.
About Oil Field Trucking
What is oil field trucking?
Oil field trucking is the transportation of materials to, from, and on an oil site. Many vehicles are involved in oil field trucking including tanker trucks, swab rigs, waste and refuse trucks, wireline trucks, sand storage trailers, service vehicles, cranes and vacuum trucks.
What does an oil field truck driver do?
Oil field truckers may perform a variety of tasks related to oil and gas operations, including the transportation of oil and other materials. A worker may transport oil, water and other things to a well, take part in assembling a rig, install equipment, and load and unload materials.
Oil field truckers often operate their vehicles far away from a road or highway. The skill of an oil field truck driver typically exceeds that of a typical truck driver. They are highly skilled in both maneuvering their vehicle and in other aspects of oil and gas operations.
Dangers and Risks of Oil Field Trucking
Common dangers and risks of oil field trucking are:
- Large and heavy vehicles: Oil field trucks are large and heavy. A tanker truck can weigh as much as 40 tons fully loaded. A large vehicle may require significant training to maneuver safely. It may not stop or turn easily. When these vehicles are used in oil field work, their large and heavy size can make an accident especially devastating.
- Electrical dangers: Workers, and the employers who supervise them, must remain constantly vigilant of the electrical dangers in oil field trucking work. Workers should wear personal protective equipment, analyze risks, and apply arc flash warning labels correctly. One often overlooked danger can come from contact with live power lines. Workers must understand how to address shock injury and electrocution risks and take precautions.
- Inadequate maintenance and equipment malfunction: Regulator maintenance is important to the dangerous equipment used in oil field work. In addition, maintenance should be conducted when there are signs of malfunction. Maintenance should be conducted based on hours of service because of the heavy power used in work. Technicians must be highly skilled to successfully perform maintenance work.
- Employee training and qualifications: Oil trucks are only as safe as the drivers who operate them. Operating an oil truck requires significant training and skill. Only operators meeting qualifications should work. Substance abuse must be monitored and addressed.
- Worker fatigue: Oil truck workers typically work long hours. They are subject to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) guidelines; however, there is an exception where some oil and gas commercial motor vehicle operators may not be considered “on duty” in all periods of inactivity. (Supply transport commercial motor vehicle drivers do not qualify for a waiting time exception.) All oil and gas truckers perform complex work that is often both physically demanding and tedious. Employee fatigue can be a contributing factor to trucking accidents.
- Poor communication: Successful oil field trucking requires effective communication. Workers need to understand the task at hand and their role. Successful communication creates clear expectations, improves productivity, and can reduce risks to truckers.
Improving Safety and Reducing Oil Field Trucking Injuries
Some ways to improve safety and reduce injuries in oil field trucking are:
- Administrative controls: Each company should have written rules and instructions, addressing a variety of risk factors.
- Adequate training: Training should address risks and require workers to meet competency levels. According to a 2007 study presented at the E&P Environmental and Safety Conference, training using simulators, similar conditions to those encountered in the field and journey management policies may significantly improve accident and injury rates for drivers.
- Time constraints: Workers should never feel pressured to work quickly rather than safely.
- Maintenance: Sufficient resources should be devoted to developing and implementing vehicle maintenance initiatives.
- Addressing dangers: When dangers are present, they should be addressed. If an employee cannot meet competency standards, wear protective equipment or follow standard operating procedures, their behavior must be addressed before it affects the overall working culture. Employees must have the resources they need to play an active role in minimizing risks.
Both the employer and the trucker play an important role in mitigating the risks of oil field trucking accidents. Risks should be assessed and accounted for. Workers must respond to dangers and hazardous situations as they arise.
Legal Liability for Oil Field Trucking Accidents
Victims may suffer from a variety of injuries, including broken bones, brain trauma, burns, respiratory injury and wrongful death. When an oil field trucking accident occurs, the employer or another party may have legal liability. Those who may be responsible include the party who manages the oil field, a contractor or subcontractor, or even the manufacturer of a truck or other equipment.
Our lawyers investigate legal liability for oil field trucking accidents. For each injured person, we evaluate the cause of the accident and whether negligence or reckless behavior was involved. Our lawyers look at training records, maintenance records and operational logs to determine what happened. We don’t accept a company’s attempt to deflect responsibility and hide the truth.
We look at all opportunities for you to pursue the compensation that you deserve, whether it is worker’s compensation, a legal claim, or other options. We are experienced litigators. Whether your case is simple or complex, we give you and your case the attention you need.
Lawyers for Oil Field Trucking Accidents
Our oil field injury lawyers for oil field trucking accidents accept cases throughout Texas. Oil field trucking work carries risks – when you’re hurt in an oil field trucking accident, our experienced lawyers at Haun Mena are here to pursue the monetary compensation that you deserve.
Contact us today for a consultation about your case. We offer free consultations for oil field trucking accident and injury claims. Our team is available 24/7. Call us now!