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Two Oilfield Fatalities Highlight the Dangers of the Industry


In August, an oilfield worker was killed on the job during an oilfield accident on an oil rig in owned by Patterson-UTI Drilling in west Texas. The worker was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, and the cause of death was unclear according to the news story on Valley reported on the death of another oilfield worker who died after falling into a spool of cable and getting tangled in the cords. His body was found later because he had been working alone. The CBS reporter interviewed Rafael Estrada who had done similar work to the man who was killed and he said, “the drilling rig is one of the most dangerous jobs in the oilfield,” and that it was not uncommon for workers to be working solo with dangerous equipment. Estrada spoke about how dangerous it can be to work in an oilfield, and how it requires a vigilant crew with team members who know exactly what they are doing.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the worker’s death, and reporter reached out to OSHA to find out if the company that employed the worker who died will face and fines or violations.

What happens if an oilfield worker dies on the job?

After a workplace fatality, the employer must notify OSHA within eight hours of the accident. OSHA immediately launches an investigation into how the employee died, and what steps could have been taken to prevent the fatality.  An OSHA investigation may take up to six months and then they decide whether the employer will receive a fine or other disciplinary action. OSHA maintains a database of work-related fatalities, the inspection data, and whether a citation was issued related to a worker fatality. OSHA’s mission is to assure safe and healthful working conditions for men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance. OSHA’s administrators report to the U.S. Secretary of Labor.

The dependents of oilfield workers who lose their lives in oilfield accidents are entitled to receive the death benefit from Oklahoma workers’ compensation. However, if the investigation reveals that the cause of the worker’s death can be attributed to a third party, such as the driver of the vehicle that caused a fatal crash, or the owner of a site where the employee was working, their Oklahoma oilfield accident attorney may be able to recover additional compensation for the worker’s family.

If you have lost a loved one, or if you have suffered a serious injury in an oilfield accident, Stipe Law Firm can help. Our Oklahoma oil-field accident attorneys have been helping victims get just recoveries for their injury and wrongful death losses for more than 60 years. Would you like for us to review your claim? You are welcome to call our McAlester office at (918) 505-7741 or schedule an appointment by using our contact form.