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Cok Kinzler PLLP

The incidence of oil field accidents

People working in the Montana oil industry are most likely well aware of the inherent dangers of such work. Oil field accidents can result in serious personal injury or the loss of life of those involved, and such incidents are relatively common.

According to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 823 oil field workers were killed in workplace accidents between 2003 and 2010. This number is seven times greater than all other industries in the United States. Hazards leading to potential accident injuries and fatalities include vehicle accidents, being struck by falling objects, being caught in machinery and being crushed in between objects. Other accident categories include explosions and fires, falling, being confined in small spaces and exposure to toxic chemicals.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration regulates workers and work conditions in the oil and gas industry. OSHA mandates that oil and gas employers provide protections to protect the safety of their workers. Despite the regulations, however, many workers continue to be involved in oil industry accidents, and such accidents often result in fatalities. When workers believe their work environment is being operated in an unsafe manner, they may choose file a complaint with OSHA in order to request an inspection.

When a company ignores the regulations in place and fails to provide measures to protect the safety of workers, the families of those killed may file a wrongful death lawsuit against the employer. Through a wrongful death lawsuit, the families of those who are killed while working in the oil and gas industry may be able to recover compensation for the losses they have suffered. Punitive penalties may also be levied in certain cases.

Source: Occupational Safety & Health Administration, "Oil and Gas Extraction", November 30, 2014

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