Louisiana was the hardest hit state in the BP disaster that emptied somewhere in the neighborhood of 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Therefore, word of any offshore oil platform accident is bound to cause the state’s residents to take notice. Many are most likely paying particular attention to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s (BSEE) report that an explosion occurred on the Echo Platform recently.
The platform is approximately 12 miles off the Louisiana coast. Operations were not being conducted on the platform at the time of the explosion, and it was reportedly contained. So far, there is no evidence that any oil spilled into the Gulf.
However, there were four workers injured in the blast — one of them fatally. The other three were taken to a hospital in the area to be treated for the injuries they suffered. No information was released regarding the nature of their injuries or their current conditions.
Fieldwood Energy — a company based in Texas — owns the platform. A spokesperson for BSEE indicated that an investigation is underway to determine the cause of the explosion. More information regarding the incident may be forthcoming in the days and weeks to come.
In the meantime, the workers who survived the accident and the family of the deceased worker may be entitled to benefits under the Jones Act, which provides benefits beyond the traditional workers’ compensation system for those who work on an offshore oil platform. Under the Jones Act, maritime workers are entitled to sue their employers for negligence. Therefore, in addition to receiving benefits through the workers’ compensation system such as medical expenses and lost wages, a separate claim may be appropriate if an investigation into the circumstances surrounding this incident indicates the employer was negligent in a manner that caused or contributed to the accident.