Oil field accident in McKenzie County results in serious burn injuries and fatal death
Why North Dakota oil and gas workers need to protect themselves while on the job
Even though North Dakota has the highest workplace fatality rate in the United States, out-of-state workers continue to flock here for steady oil jobs. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported that in June 2016 three oil workers from Wyoming suffered serious burns and one worker was killed at a McKenzie County well site. The injuries and fatality happened as a result of a flash fire. Crews were working on a fracked well when the well suddenly exploded due to an unexpected kick of gas. According to OSHA, this is the second oil and gas fatality that’s happened in North Dakota in 2016.
Injuries sustained by flash fire accidents are both life-threatening and fatal. OSHA stated that while the oil and gas industry works to reduce the risk of flash fires they haven’t completely eliminated the risk altogether. As a result, workers sustain burn injuries or die from fatal injuries, as seen in the McKenzie County accident.
However, North Dakota oil workers face a lethal and hidden danger on a daily basis. Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless toxic gas that is found in crude petroleum and natural gas fields and is extremely toxic and highly flammable. At high levels, the gas instantly combusts in tanks and wells and causes explosions and fires. When exposed to high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide, workers also suffer from life-threatening medical conditions such as shock, loss of consciousness, convulsions, and even death. Even low exposure to hydrogen sulfide gas is unhealthy for oil and gas workers. They become ill and experience symptoms ranging from respiratory issues to headaches to dizziness.
Because of these dangerous working conditions in North Dakota oil fields, OSHA created safety regulations to prevent injury and illness. Employees who work around hydrogen sulfide are required to wear safety monitors that beep when high levels of the gas are detected. According to the OSHA, the permissible exposure limit to the hydrogen sulfide is 10 parts per million. When gas levels hit 100 parts per million, it is considered extremely dangerous working conditions.
When exposed to hydrogen sulfide in the oil fields, workers should be extra cautious and take necessary safety precautions to prevent injuries. By wearing OSHA-regulated flame-resistant uniforms, safety gas monitors, and a self-contained breathing apparatus, workers reduce their risk of injuries and fatalities while on the job.
Despite workers following safety protocol, accidents still happen due to defective equipment or due to the negligence of oil companies. At Larson Law Firm, P.C., our oil field accident attorneys don’t want you to suffer as a result of another party’s careless and irresponsible actions. Take immediate legal action today and call our firm at 701-484-4878 or fill out our secure online form.