Gas pipeline and oil rig workers often work at least 12 hours every day, fix or operate heavy machines and move around on various platforms that are usually slippery. Some employers do not provide adequate training for new employees, many of whom are inexperienced or young. In addition, the high demand for gas and oil creates a stressful environment where the pressure to produce more may surpass concern about worker safety. Explosions, fires, falls, malfunctioning machinery, human error, falling objects and hazardous chemicals cause high rates of injuries and fatalities for gas pipeline and oil rig workers, particularly when they are working offshore. Unfortunately, in the Gulf of Mexico, injury at sea is a common occurrence, but employees injured while working on gas pipelines or oil rigs have some legal remedies that can help them receive compensation for their injuries. Survivors of workers who die because of their employment can receive benefits as well. The Jones Act The 1920 Merchant Marine Act includes legislation called the Jones Act. In Section 27 the Act permits seamen to receive compensation from their employers for injuries sustained during their employment. In addition, the Act allows survivors to file claims for wrongful death if seamen suffer death at sea because of their work. The broad definition of seaman in the Jones Act Maritime Law includes any person employed to further a vessel's mission in navigable waters. Under the Jones Act, employees working on jack-ups and oil rigs floating offshore are seamen. Ship owners are usually the seamen's employers, and the owners may be accountable for the negligent acts of their agents, officers or other ship employees in addition to their own acts. Employers have an obligation to use realistic caution and provide their employees with safe equipment, secure working environments and realistic protection from injury while working on their vessels. In order to make the employers legally responsible for compensation if injury or death at sea occurs, seamen or their survivors must prove that the legal reasons for the injuries or deaths were the result of the employers' negligence. Under the Jones Act, seamen or their survivors can claim damages if their employers' negligence caused injury or death either on or off the vessels if the injury or death occurred because of the seamen's jobs. Employers may attempt to convince seamen or their survivors to accept settlements, but a Jones Act Maritime attorney can help the seamen receive the full compensation to which they are entitled. Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act Enacted in 1927, the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) grants coverage to employees who work on vessels on negotiable U.S. waterways or in connection with those vessels but who do not meet the Jones Act definition of seamen. The negotiable waterways include docks, wharves, piers or other adjacent areas used for building, repairing, loading or unloading vessels. The Act commonly applies to shipbuilders, ship breakers, ship repairers, harbor workers, longshoremen and other maritime workers. Consequently, employees injured while repairing heavy machinery located on floating oil rigs may be eligible to receive compensation from their employers. Workers are not required to prove negligence to receive compensation for injuries because the LHWCA differs from the Jones Act and is instead a workers' compensation program. Injured workers are eligible to receive reimbursement for realistic medical expenses related to their injuries along with partial compensation for wages they lost before returning to work. Other payments may include vocational rehabilitation or permanent impairment benefits. In the event of workers' deaths, their survivors are eligible to receive compensation. Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act The outer continental shelf consists of submerged land existing within U.S. territory but outside a state's territory, including fixed structures like platforms for oil drilling. Congress passed the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) in 1953 to provide compensation for employees injured or killed while working on offshore gas pipelines or fixed oil rigs on the outer continental shelf. Those workers or their survivors can receive the same compensation as can those covered under the LHWCA. Laws can be complicated, and filing legal forms and claims can be difficult as well as stressful. For many years, maritime law firms have been dealing with the three acts created to protect offshore workers, and an oil rig accident attorney experienced with those acts can help workers or their survivors receive the maximum benefits allowed.