When you look up the causes of injuries to oil workers, it is easy to think that your employer can control everything. There is a wealth of information setting out standards they must follow to keep you and the other workers safe.
Yet, you only have to look at some of the biggest oil-related disasters to realize that as humans, we still cannot control nature. Drilling for oil often occurs in exposed offshore areas, and no company can control the wind and the waves.
Does bad weather excuse an employer for an oil accident?
That does not mean an employer can blame freak weather for injuries to workers. People often say nature is unpredictable. They use examples of hurricanes devastating the coastal towns, floods destroying low-lying communities or avalanches sweeping down onto mountain resorts. Yet, in most cases, there was a high likelihood those events would happen at some point. Wherever humans reside in areas vulnerable to the weather, death and injury are likely.
The same applies to oil platforms. If a rig is exposed to the waves and weather long enough, it will fail, often with a high human cost. While the precise timing of a failure may be hard to predict, the fact that it will one day fail is assured.
Oil companies need to carry out sufficient checks to ensure that weaknesses in oil platforms are spotted before they become a problem, even if that means abandoning a platform with oil still to extract. Employers must err on the side of caution when severe weather is forecast and think, what if the conditions are worse than predicted? If they don’t, you could suffer injuries that stay with you for life.