Available 24/7/365 Free Consultations
(800) 349-0000
Request Free Consultation

Health Effects of Smoke Inhalation After an Oilfield Fire

Posted on July 8, 2024 in

Oil extraction workers face significant on-the-job hazards, including explosions and fires. However, one major health hazard is often overlooked – the effects of smoke inhalation after an oil field fire.

Smoke inhalation can lead to both traumatic external and internal injuries as well as longer-term illnesses that cause disabilities. The treatment for smoke inhalation will depend on the severity of the harm caused, but it can lead to major medical expenses. Speak to our Houston oil rig explosion attorney today for assistance with your case.

Acute Health Effects of Smoke Inhalation

Many of the effects of smoke inhalation are immediately noticed and require emergency medical care. This can include:

  • Respiratory Distress. One of the immediate effects of smoke inhalation is respiratory distress. This occurs when smoke particles and toxic gases irritate the lungs and airways, leading to a range of symptoms, including coughing, shortness of breath, and wheezing. Severe cases of smoke inhalation can cause acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which requires immediate medical treatment.
  • Chemical Burns. Inhalation of hot gases and chemicals present in the smoke can cause burns to the respiratory tract. These burns can lead to swelling and obstruction of the airways, making it difficult to breathe. Chemical burns can also cause long-term damage to the respiratory system.
  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. Smoke from oilfield fires often contains high levels of carbon monoxide (CO), a colorless and odorless gas that can be deadly. Inhalation of carbon monoxide can lead to symptoms such as headache, dizziness, or confusion. This can also cause a loss of consciousness. In severe situations, carbon monoxide poisoning can cause brain damage or death.
  • Cyanide Poisoning. Burning of certain materials in oilfields can release cyanide gas, which is highly toxic. Cyanide poisoning can result in rapid heart rate, seizures, and respiratory failure. Immediate medical intervention is necessary to counteract the effects of cyanide.

Long-Term Health Effects of Smoke Inhalation

Unfortunately, both short and long-term exposure to smoke inhalation can lead to longer-term health complications for workers. This can include:

  • Chronic Respiratory Conditions. Long-term exposure to smoke can lead to chronic respiratory conditions, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma. These conditions cause persistent breathing difficulties and can negatively impact the quality of life of affected persons.
  • Lung Cancer. Prolonged exposure to carcinogens in smoke increases the risk of developing lung cancer. Oilfield workers who are repeatedly exposed to smoke from fires are at a higher risk of this severe condition, which can be fatal if not detected and treated early.
  • Cardiovascular Problems. Smoke inhalation can also have long-term effects on the cardiovascular system. The toxic particles and gases can cause inflammation and damage to blood vessels, increasing a person’s risk of heart attacks and strokes.
  • Neurological Damage. The toxic substances in smoke can cause neurological damage, leading to cognitive impairments, memory loss, and other neurological disorders. Prolonged exposure to these toxins can lead to permanent damage to the nervous system.

What to Do If You Are Affected by Smoke Inhalation

If you are an oilfield worker who has been affected by smoke inhalation, it is crucial to take immediate action to protect your health and legal rights:

  • Seek Medical Attention. The first and most critical step after any smoke inhalation is to seek medical attention. Even if you do not feel immediate symptoms, it is essential to get checked by a healthcare professional, as some effects of smoke inhalation can be delayed.
  • Document the Smoke Inhalation Incident. Keep detailed records of the incident, including the date, time, where it happened, who saw what happened, and any symptoms you experience. Documenting the event and its effects on your health can be crucial for any legal claims you may need to file later.
  • Report the Incident to Your Employer. Notify your employer about the incident as soon as possible. Make sure to report it in writing and keep a copy for your records. This documentation can support your claim for workers’ compensation.

Contacting an experienced work injury lawyer is vital. They can:

  • Investigate the incident thoroughly to gather evidence supporting your claim.
  • Advocate on your behalf to ensure your rights are protected.
  • Negotiate with insurance companies to secure fair compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

If you have been affected by smoke inhalation after an oilfield fire, do not hesitate to seek legal assistance. Your health and financial future are at stake, and a dedicated Texas work injury lawyer can help you achieve the best possible outcome.