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Lack of oversight was a key factor in fatal workplace injuries

On Behalf of | Jun 18, 2019 | Firm News, Workplace Injuries |

In 2018, a tragic accident occurred in another state that resulted in multiple fatalities. The fatal workplace injuries occurred after an oil rig exploded. A safety board recently commented on the incident, stating that the five lives that were lost may have been saved if greater precautions had been taken. Texas oil workers may want to follow this case.

The five men who died in the catastrophic accident had been removing pipe from an oil well, also known as “tripping” in the industry. In a typical tripping exercise, a well would first have been filled with a substance known as drilling mud, which is a fluid that helps offset pressure inside a well and keeps gas and oil from escaping. Attorneys representing family members of the now-deceased workers have said the company in charge of the project deliberately used a lesser quality drilling mud in order to cut costs.

However, the president of the contract company said the well mud used maintained adequate well control at all times. He also said the data his company has provided is inconsistent with the advisory safety board’s findings and that human error was the causal factor in the explosion. Regardless of the details on who or what may have caused the accident, disaster struck when too much pressure built up in the well and gases escaped, then combusted.

For some reason, an alarm system set in place to warn crew members in a potentially dangerous situation, such as escaping gases forcing drilling mud out of a well, failed to work when it should have. Safety investigators wonder whether workers might have purposely disengaged the alarm system to prevent nuisance alarms. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says its focus is on making sure similar accidents resulting in fatal workplace injuries do not occur again in the future. If a Texas rig worker is concerned about a particular injury incident, he or she may wish to discuss the matter with an experienced attorney.