Operating a jack-up can be very complicated and dangerous. Workers responsible for handling this type of equipment face on-the-job risks ranging from machine malfunctions, possible electrical explosions, or even capsizing.
Any one of these jack-up rig accidents may result in serious injury, including severe head trauma. If you or a loved one have been harmed while working on an offshore jack-up rig, you should consider pursuing a claim. We can help protect your rights.
The maritime attorneys at Pierce Skrabanek can pursue your rights under the law and fight for compensation needed for medical bills, potential wage loss, and pain and suffering. Contact our office today for a free case evaluation.
Jack-up Rig Description
A jack-up rig is a type of mobile offshore drilling unit (MODU). These rigs can be used to drill into the ocean floor in up to 350 feet of water. Jack-ups are common type of rig that is responsible for drilling most offshore wells.
How a Jack-up Rig Works
Hundreds of jack-ups perform offshore exploration and drilling operations worldwide in virtually every kind of aquatic environment. Drilling operations are a key design element of a jack-up rig. Drilling can be performed using one of two methods. A cantilevered jack-up or less popular and older drilling design is the slot-type jack-up (keyway jack-up).
One of the features that makes a jack-up rig unique are its legs, which can raise and lower. When the legs are up, the jack-up rig floats, allowing it to move easily from place to place. While some jack-ups can self-propel and do not need another vehicle to transport it, most jack-ups are moved by barges or tug boats.
When lowered, jack-up rig legs can rest on the bottom of the ocean floor. This provides a very stable base compared to other offshore rigs. The legs move through holes in the hull, and can extend to elevate the platform over the surface of the water. There are two types of jack-up rig legs: open-truss and columnar.
Jack-up Rig Incidents
Despite safety measures to protect workers, countless jack-up rig accidents have occurred since offshore drilling operations first began. Some of the more recent noteworthy jack-up rig incidents include one off the coast of Qatar in July 2015, and another off the shores of Russia in December 2011.
The Qatari accident involved a rig owned by Gulf Drilling International, which entirely collapsed into the water. The collapse was caused by a “punch through incident,” whereby one leg of the rig punctures into the ocean floor and destabilizes the entire rig. All rig personnel reportedly escaped on lifeboats, and there were no injuries. Repairs to make the rig operational were scheduled to take months.
The Russian incident on the cantilever jack-up rig called the Kolskaya had a much sadder ending. Sixty-seven individuals were known to be on board at the time of the accident. In all, 53 people were declared missing or deceased. This fatal jack-up rig accident occurred while the rig was being illegally towed during a fierce winter storm in the Sea of Okhotsk.
Jack-up rig accidents
Jack-up rigs require a substantial amount of specialized equipment in order to fulfill their purpose of drilling into the ocean floor. All of the electrical equipment onboard creates a risk for fires and explosions. Corroded ring gaskets can cause gas leaks or blowouts. Cables can come loose and strike workers. Other times, the entire rig can be at risk of collapse if it is not properly stabilized.
Some of the dangers common to jack-up rig work include:
- Equipment that is defective or fails
- Management and personnel not heeding safety precautions and standards
- Machinery striking a worker
- Slip and falls
- Falls from heights
- Injuries from heavy lifting
- Loss of well control
- Punch through events
- Rig collapses and fall overs
- Inclement weather
Jack-up Rig Injuries
According to the U.S. Minerals Management Service, 69 people were killed and 1,349 were injured in accidents on MODUs from 2001 to 2010. Explosions, fires, and failure of highly specialized equipment are just some of the accidents that can befall workers.
These dangerous conditions can lead to serious injuries such as:
- head trauma
- back injuries
- skin lacerations
When proper safety protocols aren’t put into place or followed, then the likelihood of accidents can and will happen. If you have been injured due to the negligence of another, you need to be aware of your legal options.
Let Us Help You
If you are a victim of a jack-up rig accident, you should consider pursing legal action. The Jones Act offers specific protections to maritime workers. Under this act, workers, a surviving spouse or dependents can file a claim against an employer if the employer’s negligence caused injury or death. Claims must be filed within three years of the incident. Under the Jones Act, you may be entitled to compensation relating to:
- Current and future medical costs
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Future loss of earnings
The jack-up rig accident attorneys at Pierce Skrabanek focus on maritime law and understand the complexities of offshore rig operations. With this specific legal experience, we can build a case that may win you the compensation you deserve. We have a proven track record of winning tens of millions in settlements and verdicts for our clients.
Please reach out to us today for your no cost or obligation case review. We look forward to using our expertise to help you get your life back on track.