Just recently, three workers died and another was seriously injured in connection with an oil well blowout in Burleson County, Texas. A blowout is an eruption of oil or gas from the wellhead that can erupt in flames if there is a spark or other source of ignition. The drilling site was owned and controlled by Chesapeake Energy, an oil and gas exploration company based in Oklahoma City.
In November of 2019, two explosions occurred at a chemical plant in Port Neches, Texas owned by Houston-based Texas Petroleum Chemicals. The explosions and ensuing fire injured several workers and led to a widespread mandatory evacuation of nearby residents. The chemical plant had been fined and penalized multiple times in the last decade for air pollution violations by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
These and many other incidents throughout the state and country highlight the fact that oil fields and drilling sites can be the most dangerous work sites known to man, with the threat of serious injury and death constantly facing the workers manning these facilities. Oil and gas well drilling and servicing activities involve many different types of equipment and materials. Recognizing and controlling hazards is critical to preventing injuries and deaths. Several of these hazards include explosions and fires, high pressure lines and equipment, electrical and hazardous energy risks, and vehicle and machine hazards.
Explosions and Fires
Workers in the oil and gas industry face the risk of fire and explosion due to ignition of flammable vapors or gases. Flammable gases, such as well gases, vapors, and hydrogen sulfide, can be released from wells, trucks, production equipment or surface equipment such as tanks and shale shakers. Ignition sources can include static, electrical energy sources, open flames, lightning, cigarettes, cutting and welding tools, hot surfaces, and frictional heat. Gas leaks, blow-outs, explosions and machinery failures are all caused by system failures and can result in tremendous injury and loss of life.
High Pressure Lines and Equipment
Workers are also exposed to hazards from compressed gases or from high-pressure lines. Internal erosion of lines might result in leaks or line bursts, exposing workers to high-pressure hazards from compressed gases or from high-pressure lines. If connections securing high-pressure lines fail, an ensuing leak near an ignition source spells tragedy for everyone on or near the drilling site.
Multiple agencies at the federal, state and local levels regulate various aspects of oil and gas operations and monitor working conditions and safety at oil and gas drilling locations. In the event of a fire or explosion, these multiple agencies will respond and investigate and will report on the cause of a well site explosion or fire. These agencies include the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Texas Railroad Commission of Texas (TRRC); and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
If you or your loved one suffered an injury or death as a result of an oil field accident, we can help. Call Paradowski Law at (855) 524-2976 and let us help get you what you deserve.