April Explosion Contributes to Texas’ Prominent Oil and Gas Fatalities
Houston, TX (Law Firm Newswire) June 30, 2014 - In West Texas, two died and nine were injured in an oil well explosion on the morning of April 30. The tragic accident brings two more deaths to a state that has accounted for 40 percent of all oil and gas-related deaths in the United States since 2009.
According to Loving County Sheriff Billy Hopper, a buildup of pressure led to an explosion while workers with contracting firm Crescent Services were changing a wellhead at a site owned by RKI Exploration and Production at around 8:00 a.m. Amos B. Ortega, 46, of Artesia, New Mexico and Roberto Magdaleno, 41, of El Paso were identified as the two victims of the explosion.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas accounted for 216 of the 545 oil worker deaths from 2008-2012. During that period, death rates rose 3.2 percent. Currently, fatality rates in the oil and gas industry are eight times higher than the all-industry standard.
And in Texas, 78 percent of fatalities resulted from safety violations; deaths which could have been prevented with more oversight.
Worker inexperience and fatigue from 12- to 14-hour shifts also contributed to these deaths. As baby boomers retire, new workers are hired at an ever more rapid pace to fill the surge in demand. Unfortunately, these new workers do not come equipped with the training necessary to remain safe on the job while performing the physically demanding, repetitive tasks asked of them in the field.
"The job gains in the oil and gas industry have come with an unacceptable rise in fatalities,” said Houston personal injury attorney Richard LaGarde, of the LaGarde Law Firm. "Managers of these oil and gas worksites must enforce proper workplace procedures and ensure that all employees receive proper training. It shouldn’t have to take a tragedy like this to force us to look at safer workplace practices.”
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