Skip to Main Content

Oilfield Burn Injuries: What Workers Need to Know

Undefeated Texas Oil Field Injury Lawyers

Few occupations are as dangerous as oilfield work.

In fact, according to the  Centers for Disease Control (CDC), workers in the oil and gas industry are seven times more likely to be hurt on the job compared to employees in any other industry. While these injuries can range from minor cuts and bruises to catastrophic brain and spinal cord injuries, few are as devastating and potentially life-changing as the severe burns sustained in connection with an oilfield accident, fire or explosion.

How Burn Injuries Occur on the Oilfield

The are many ways an oilfield worker can suffer burns on the job. Some of the most common scenarios that lead to severe and catastrophic burn injuries include:

  • Equipment Malfunction: High-pressure valves, compressors, and drills are prone to wear and tear and can overheat or spark, igniting flammable materials.
  • Well Blowout: A well blowout occurs when a well’s pressure control systems fail, causing an uncontrolled release of oil or gas. This can result in a violent explosion and intense flames, severely burning workers in the vicinity.
  • Pipeline Ruptures: Pipeline ruptures can occur due to corrosion, improper maintenance, or external damage. A rupture may result in the release of flammable materials, leading to an explosion or fire that can cause burns to workers in the vicinity.
  • Exposure to Harmful Substances: Contact with hazardous materials is another significant risk factor for burn injuries among oilfield workers. Many chemical agents used in drilling and extraction processes are corrosive and can cause chemical burns upon contact with skin or eyes. Protective measures and proper handling are crucial to minimizing these dangerous exposures.
  • Lack of Proper Safety Measures: Inadequate safety protocols, including failure to conduct regular risk assessments, improper storage of flammable materials, or lack of fire extinguishing systems, can significantly elevate the potential for burn injuries on the oilfield.
  • Employer Negligence: Ignorance or disregard of safety practices can create perfect conditions for an oilfield accident, fire, or explosion. For instance, failing to inspect equipment for leaks or mishandling flammable materials properly could lead to devastating consequences, such as workers suffering severe burns.
  • Lack of Adequate Training: Personnel not adequately trained to handle the complex equipment and hazardous materials found in oilfields are more likely to cause or fall victim to accidents that result in burn injuries. Negligent hiring practices may also lead to unqualified individuals performing high-risk tasks.

Understanding Oilfield Burn Injuries

Burns in the oilfield typically fall into three primary categories: electrical, chemical, and thermal.

  • Electrical Burns: These burns are usually the result of direct exposure to electrical sources or arcs. In an oilfield, electrical burns can occur when high-voltage equipment malfunctions or when safety practices around electrical components are inadequate.
  • Chemical burns: Such burns are typically caused by contact with caustic agents used in oil extraction and processing. Chemical burns can be particularly dangerous as they may not be immediately apparent, causing long-term damage before symptoms arise.
  • Thermal Burns: Thermal burns are the most common type of burns experienced in oilfield accidents. These occur when a worker comes into contact with a heat source, including the flames produced by an explosion or fire, scalding liquids, hot surfaces, or steam.

Oilfield burn injuries can be further classified by the degree of severity:

First-Degree Burns

First-degree burns are the least severe type of burn injury and impact only the outer layer of the skin (epidermis). Symptoms usually include redness, minor swelling, and pain in the affected area. First-degree burns commonly heal within a week without causing long-term damage. They can typically be managed by applying cool water, using soothing lotions, and taking over-the-counter pain medication as needed for comfort.

Second-Degree Burns

Second-degree burns impact both the epidermis and the dermis, resulting in blistering, intense pain, and potential scarring or infection if not managed effectively. Treatment for such burns may involve antibiotics, pain control, and specialized burn creams. Skin grafting could be required in certain instances to address the damage comprehensively.

Third-Degree Burns

The most severe type of burn injuries, third-degree burns penetrate through the dermis and affect deeper tissues, potentially causing numbness due to nerve damage. The appearance of the burn can vary from waxy and white to charred and black. Third-degree burns require immediate medical attention and often need surgical intervention such as skin grafting and physical therapy to manage the damage. Infections are a common complication and can be life-threatening. Third-degree burns are almost always disfiguring, and long-term care is essential for rehabilitation and recovery.

What to Do After an Oilfield Burn Injury

If you or a loved one suffered severe burns due to an oilfield accident, fire, or explosion,  you can’t afford to depend on your employer to make things right. The truth is, it’s not really up to them — it’s up to their insurance company. More often than not, an insurer will do everything possible to avoid responsibility, blame you for your injuries, and limit your recovery to workers’ compensation benefits.

Unless you don’t take immediate steps to protect your rights, chances are you and your family will never receive full compensation for all of your injuries and losses:

  • Immediately report your burn injury to your supervisor, following established company protocols.
  • DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING, speak with the company’s insurance adjuster, provide a recorded statement, or accept any payment other than your regular paycheck until you have consulted with an experienced oilfield accident attorney.
  • Note the names and contact information of any witnesses, as well as the time and date your burn injuries occurred. 
  • If you’re physically able, take pictures of the accident scene and anything that may have caused your injury. 
  • Don’t discuss the accident or your burn injuries with anyone other than your spouse and attorney, and don’t post anything related to the incident or your injuries on social media. The insurance company likely has you under surveillance and is actively looking for anything they can use to undermine your credibility.
  • Demand medical attention from the provider of your choice. Remember, you are not required to limit your care to the insurance company’s providers.
  • Keep all medical appointments and follow all of your doctors’ recommendations. Failing to do so will jeopardize your physical recovery and give the insurance company an excuse to question the severity of your burn injury.
  • Preserve the clothes you were wearing and any other physical evidence in your possession. Do not launder or alter anything, and store all items in a clean plastic bag until you can hand the evidence over to your attorney.
  • Be sure to save copies of your medical bills, co-pay receipts, and other evidence of any out-of-pocket expenses related to your burn injury.

Suffer an Oilfield Burn Injury? Call 1-888-603-3636 for Free Consult with Our Undefeated Oilfield Accident Lawyers

Our Oilfield Injury Lawyers have won Billions — including the #1 Largest Oilfield Burn Settlement in History  — for oil and gas workers across Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Montana and Wyoming.

If you or someone you love suffered a severe burn injury in connection with an oilfield accident, explosion or fire, call 1-888-603-3636 or use our contact form to send us a confidential email.

All consultations are free, and because we only represent clients for a contingency fee, you’ll owe nothing unless we win your case.