Wyoming State OSHA investigating oil field explosion death

State OSHA employees in Wyoming are currently investigating the death of a 36-year-old man who died due to an explosion at his job site in an oil field. The fatality occurred last November, however, the initial facts and finding have just recently been released in OSHA’s preliminary report.

In the initial report OSHA states that “a more formal training program and a reevaluation of the oil field site’s hazards for workers may be necessary for the employer”. This initial finding highlights a glaring issue that is prevalent throughout the oilfields in relation to work place accidents. The man who died in the fatal fire and explosion had been hired less than two weeks prior. Less than two weeks of training leaves room for speculation that perhaps this fatality could have been avoided had the company/employers provided a longer and more intensive training program for new employees.

Employers have a responsibility to their employees to ensure that they are trained sufficiently in their area of employment. In providing adequate training to an employee, they can help facilitate a safe and efficient work environment for all workers on the job site. Unfortunately, in this instance, it seems as if the result of this accident had a direct correlation to the amount of training the employee had received prior to being placed on the job site.

According to OSHA there have been 1,566 fatalities between 2008 and 2017 directly related to gas and oil extraction in the United States. To put it in perspective, that is around the same amount of U.S. troops who died fighting overseas in that same time frame. OSHA also cited extraction companies for almost 11,000 violations during this same time frame, with 64 percent of those violations being deemed as “serious” which means that those violations were likely to result in death and serious physical harm. A smaller percentage were found to have been violations that were classified as repeated. This is alarming because it means that the employers are seeing these dangerous flaws within their company and then blatantly ignoring the warning signs at the expense of their employee’s safety.

It is overwhelmingly clear that something needs to change. Employees need to be provided an adequate opportunity to learn their trade in a manner that will ensure their safety, and the safety of others when on a job site.