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Oil Rig Workers Are Well Paid, But Are the Dangers Worth the Money?

It's no secret that oil rig workers stand to make an impressive paycheck, even in entry-level positions. However, are these salaries worth the dangers that they face on a daily basis?

Salaries for an entry-level oil rig position, such as a maintenance roustabout, average around $47,000 per year, with management positions making well over $100,000 per year. This high level pay combined with a schedule that includes 3/5 of the year off per average employee sounds like a sweet deal for offshore workers.

Part of the reason that offshore oil rig worker pay is high is to offset the difficult working conditions and risks associated with the job. Workers often face 14/21 shifts, meaning that they work for 14 days straight, followed by 21 days off. Each day on the rig comes with hard manual labor for many workers, sometimes including night shifts on the 24-hour operation. Two straight weeks at sea can be a harrowing experience for many, although some rigs are equipped with impressive living quarters for the crew.

In addition, oil rig crews face some of the highest rates of injuries and fatalities in the country. In 2008 alone, 120 workers in the oil and gas industry were killed on the job. The amount of workers killed in this field from 2003 to 2010 is 7 times higher than that of all other industries in the U.S., according to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).

Dangers Faced by Oil Rig Workers Include:

  • Falling from a height
  • Being struck by debris
  • Drowning
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals
  • Burns
  • Helicopter crashes
  • Electrocution
  • Head and brain injury
  • Back injury
  • Muscle strain from heavy lifting and repetitive motions

In addition, being at sea means that the rig is cut off from certain types of medical care. While each rig staffs a doctor or medic, there is always a chance that a situation will occur in which the rig is not equipped with the needed equipment. In that case, the delay in treatment can exacerbate an offshore injury or even lead to a wrongful death. If you have been injured while working on an oil rig, you should consult with an experienced lawyer to learn about your legal rights. Our oil rig injury attorneys represent rig workers throughout the nation.

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