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Offshore fracking poses the risk of injury for workers

Those who work in the oil and gas industry know that offshore work is inherently dangerous. Offshore fracking poses a considerable risk because of the possibility of explosions and oil spills, and the exposure to toxic chemicals.

Lawmakers created the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act to protect workers who sustain injuries while at work on an offshore fracking platform.

Long hours and high risks

Workers face many safety hazards, such as being struck by heavy equipment, and exhaustion can compound these risks. Working long shifts and carrying out their jobs in confined spaces under extreme temperatures, a lack of alertness can be deadly. Unfortunately, fatigue is often a rig worker's constant companion.

Explosions and oil spills

Fracking brings with it the possibility of an explosion, which can be catastrophic. In 2010, an oil spill coincided with an undersea explosion that blew out the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, causing it to sink. That infamous disaster killed 11 workers, and discharged 206 million gallons of oil into the sea, eventually soaking miles of shoreline. Some people still feel the effects of the oil spill with issues that include asthma, persistent coughs, headaches and even gastrointestinal distress.

The silica problem

Part of the fracking process involves pumping silica sand mixed with water and various chemicals into shale formations. High pressure breaks up the rock to prompt well production. The use of thousands of pounds of silica sand creates airborne dust particles. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, this dust can cause inflammation of the lungs and lead to bronchitis, cancer and other serious health problems.

Coverage for workers

Traditional workers' compensation insurance programs typically do not provide benefits for longshoremen and harbor workers. Fortunately, when a worker sustains an injury on an offshore rig, he or she may be eligible for compensation to cover medical treatment expenses and a portion of lost weekly wages plus other awards under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. An attorney familiar with the Act and its provisions can follow the procedures and timelines so that an injured worker can focus on recovery.

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