Workers’ Compensation for the Oil & Gas Exploration Industries
Oil and gas exploration is dominated by large national and international corporations with some smaller regional companies.
- The sizes of most of the businesses in this field allow them to self-insure their workers’ compensation exposure, often through their own captive insurance company.
- The smaller regional companies join a rent-a-captive insurance company or purchase their work comp coverage on the open market.
The geographical spread of operations for oil and gas companies is the entire country, however the bulk of the field operations are in the three states of Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.
- The sheer size of the larger companies results in them having a wide variety of work comp exposures from office employees to roughnecks working on an oil rig.
- For smaller oil and gas companies that purchase insurance in the voluntary market, the wide variety of occupational codes:
- Makes rating smaller operations difficult
- Subjects smaller companies to frequent premium audits.
The oil and gas companies normally have a safety manager and an in-depth safety program. The large cross-section of employees results in various levels of risk and exposure, which translates into a slightly higher than average level of frequency and severity of injuries.
The availability of medical care depends upon the location of the employee at the time of injury.
- Office employees in metropolitan areas will have more medical options than employees working in rural areas.
- Roughnecks in an oil rig field will often have a nurse at the office for minor medical care.
- Selection of medical providers will depend upon the state where the injury occurs.
Indemnity benefits for employees of oil and gas exploration companies will vary depending on the jurisdiction of the injury.
- Injuries to field workers create the majority of indemnity benefit claims.
- Occupational illnesses resulting from carcinogen exposure accounts for only about 3% of work related injuries in oil or gas workers, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics.
Oil and gas exploration covers many different aspects of petroleum production. Some of the sub-categories of oil and gas exploration that would have the same or similar work comp issues include:
- Contract drillers
- Oil and gas pipelines
- Pumping services
- Pile drivers
Transitional / Modified Duties in the Oil & Gas Exploration Industry
Many of the Engineering and Geology related jobs for Oil and Gas Exploration companies require advanced degrees and are not necessarily heavy in nature making temporary accommodations very possible. The Equipment Operator jobs are heavier in nature and when offshore, modified duty opportunities may be limited. Employees onshore with restrictions may be good candidates for placement with non-profit organizations to keep them active and productive versus being at home focused on an injury and disability.
If there is an applicable union contract, be sure to review the terms to verify modified duty is not prohibited or restricted. Temporary transitional opportunities may include:
|Equipment Operator:||Preparation of shipping documentation and assisting in cleaning the shop and yard areas.|
|General Labor:||Assistance in completing paperwork, data entry or cleaning the shop and yard.|