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Oilfield workers are often exposed to hazardous substances while performing their daily duties. These substances, such as benzene, silica, and asbestos, can cause serious health problems, ranging from respiratory issues to long-term illnesses. Workers need to understand the risks involved and the legal protections available to them to safeguard their health and rights in the workplace. This awareness is essential for all workers operating in potentially hazardous environments.

Common Harmful Substances in Oilfields

In the world of oilfield operations, workers often encounter hazardous substances that pose significant health risks. Benzene, a known carcinogen, is commonly found in crude oil and can affect the bone marrow, leading to blood disorders. Silica dust, generated during drilling operations, can cause severe lung diseases, including silicosis and lung cancer. Asbestos, used in older equipment for its heat-resistant properties, is another dangerous substance; inhalation can lead to asbestosis and mesothelioma. Awareness and precautionary measures are vital as these substances, among others, are frequent in oilfields and can have long-lasting health impacts on workers.

Legal Rights Under Federal and State Law

Oilfield workers are protected under several federal and state laws aimed at ensuring their safety and health in the workplace. Federally, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates strict guidelines that employers must follow to minimize exposure to hazardous substances. These regulations require proper safety equipment, adequate training, and regular monitoring of hazardous conditions. Additionally, workers exposed to harmful substances may seek recourse through the Workers’ Compensation Act, which provides benefits for medical care and wage replacement.

In North Dakota, state-specific safety regulations complement federal laws, offering extra layers of protection. For instance, the North Dakota Department of Labor and Human Rights enforces standards that might exceed federal requirements. Workers have the right to a safe working environment, and when employers fail to meet these standards, legal action can be a viable option to address grievances and seek compensation.

What to Do If You’re Exposed

If you suspect exposure to harmful substances in the oilfield, taking immediate steps is vital:

  • Remove Yourself: Immediately leave the contaminated area to prevent further exposure.
  • Seek Medical Attention: Consult a healthcare provider promptly, even if no symptoms are visible, as some effects can be delayed.
  • Document Everything: Record details of the exposure, such as the substance, duration, exposure conditions, and any symptoms you notice.
  • Follow-up: Ensure your employer properly logs the incident and reviews preventive measures to avoid future occurrences.

How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

A personal injury attorney can be instrumental for oilfield workers exposed to hazardous substances. They provide essential guidance through the complexities of filing workers’ compensation claims and can evaluate if further legal action against responsible parties is warranted. An experienced attorney can help gather and preserve evidence, secure expert medical evaluations, and represent your interests in negotiations or court. Their involvement ensures that you fully understand your rights and the compensation you might be entitled to for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. 

Pringle & Herigstad Can Help If You’ve Been Exposed to Harmful Oilfield Substances

At Pringle & Herigstad, P.C., we are dedicated to defending the rights of oilfield workers exposed to harmful substances. Our experienced attorneys can guide you through every step of your claim. Contact us today to ensure you receive the compensation and protection you deserve.