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Men deprived of oxygen on oil rig suffered brain injuries

Four men were nearly suffocated to death while working on an oil rig in Texas in 2012. Though the workers survived, they suffered brain injuries from being deprived of oxygen for 15 minutes. At least two of the workers were permanently disabled by this horrible incident.

Now the victims are pursuing a lawsuit against their former employer, accusing it of negligently contributing to their injuries by not following safety procedures when the room they were in was flooded with carbon dioxide.

The four were electricians. They were working in the engine room of a dry docked oil rig in Brownsville. As the four worked, carbon dioxide suddenly began spraying from jets that their attorney compared with indoor fire sprinklers that are commonly found on the ceiling of public buildings and offices.

The devices were part of the rig’s fire suppression system. Another crew on board activated them. The electricians were trapped inside and quickly ran out of oxygen. It was 15 minutes before they were discovered, unconscious, suffering from seizures and foaming at the mouth.

All four men sustained brain injuries from being choked of oxygen for a quarter of an hour. One of the workers now suffers from dementia, while another is too disabled to work again. The other two are apparently still able to work, but their attorney describes memory and sleep problems, as well as personality disorders. It is likely that their capacity to work has been impacted to a significant degree.

The Keppel Amfels shipyard, Fire and Safety Specialists Inc., and Noble Drilling Services are named as defendants. The plaintiffs’ attorneys said that there should have been a working carbon dioxide detector in the engine room and a stop valve, neither of which was present.

Source: ValleyCentral.com, “Four men file suit after work accident leaves them with brain injuries,” Brett Crandall, April 11, 2014

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