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Offshore injuries on oil rigs

With all the drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, thousands of workers depend on their employers and other contractors to provide a safe place to work and the right people and equipment to get the job done. Unfortunately, as we've seen with the Deepwater Horizon accident and other tragedies, the companies that run these job sites don't always put the safety of their workers first. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury or wrongful death while working on an offshore platform, call Zehl & Associates. An experienced offshore accident attorney and our knowledge of Jones' Law are what you need on your side at this crucial time.

Types of offshore oil rigs

The outer continental shelf in the Gulf of Mexico offers opportunity for companies to tap into the oil deposits below the ocean floor. Depending on the depth of the water, different oil rigs are required. But each of these teams presents its own risks and challenges. Currently, the following types of rigs can be found along the coast of the United States:

Fixed platforms.

To take advantage of shallow water mineral deposits, fixed platform rigs are the most ideal and most stable. A tall steel “jacket” rises from the ocean floor and supports a platform above the ocean's surface. They allow drilling up to approximately 1500 feet below the ocean floor. Many of them use an underwater drilling system to extract oil from the ocean floor and pump it to the surface. The downside to these platforms is that they are very expensive to build and stuck in one place. They can't move when a hurricane hit. Cost increases the temptation for construction companies and contractors to cut corners and save money. This can result in serious safety problems for workers.

Jack-up Rigs.

Like fixed platform rigs, when these rigs are producing, they sit on steel legs over the ocean away from the waves. The difference between these is that they start out as a floating platform that is towed to the correct position by barges. The legs go down to the bottom of the ocean and then lift the platform out of the water. Less stability but more mobility can make them more useful for deeper water than a fixed platform.

Complaint Tower Rigs.

These offshore rigs work much the same as fixed rig rigs except they are taller and thinner. The design allows drilling up to 3,000 feet below the seabed, but provides much less stability. They will sway back and forth in wind and waves, presenting a different set of safety concerns and risks for workers. Proper training on how to avoid and prevent offshore injury caused by instability is very important to workers on this equipment.

Floating production systems.

 Useful in water depths up to 6,000 feet, these rigs float to the surface while pumping oil from far below. They can use anchors and chains to hold them in place or the newer ones use computerized thrusters to adjust the location. The well-known Deepwater Horizon was a floating production system.

Each of the drilling rigs presents its own unique risks in addition to the common risks involved. Whether you were injured on the structure itself or in transit by boat or helicopter, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries.

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