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Workplace injury at Colorado drill site claims life of worker

Workers at drill sites in Colorado and other states are typically exposed to multiple safety hazards. They are particularly vulnerable when their employers and supervisors disregard safety regulations. Such negligence can lead to a workplace injury that could be fatal.

A drilling company from another state recently agreed to pay negotiated penalties totaling $9,805 after an OSHA investigation into a workers' death on a drill site near Parachute. According to a report received by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the 34-year-old worker was killed after repairing a leak in the gasket of a pipe that carries drilling mud. Upon completion of the repairs, the worker had to re-install a high-pressure two-inch pipe nipple.

OSHA claims that it was the responsibility of the rig supervisor to ensure that at least eight threads of the pipe nipple were engaged to provide a secure connection. However, the worker engaged only two threads, and upon re-pressurization to 2,700 pounds per square inch, the valve detached from the nipple and struck the worker. The catastrophic blow caused the worker's death. OSHA says such incidents could be avoided if rig supervisors ensure that all members of the crew know the procedures for proper installation of high-pressure attachments. Installations must be supervised and inspected prior to re-pressurization.

Upon completion of the accident investigation, OSHA proposed penalties of $13,545 for three violations. However, one citation, related to fixed ladder rules, was dropped during negotiations with the drilling company. Losing a loved one due to an avoidable workplace injury is heartbreaking and may cause financial hardship for the surviving family members. Financial relief may be pursued by filing a death benefits claim with the Colorado workers' compensation insurance fund.

Source: gjsentinel.com, "Drilling firm fined $9,805 for fatal accident", Dennis Webb, May 21, 2015

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