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Workplace injury: OSHA cites oil company for deaths of 3 workers

Workers in oil fields across the country, including Colorado, face many unique, but life-threatening, safety hazards. Employers have a tremendous responsibility to protect workers from suffering workplace injury. When company owners fail to comply with the strict federal safety regulations, lives are sometimes lost, and families are robbed of their loved ones.

Three members of one family lost their lives in a tragic fire on an oilfield in another state in March. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration have completed an accident investigation and determined that the deaths of the three workers were preventable. The accident occurred when the men were installing a blowout preventer. This is the part that handles the sealing, controlling and monitoring the rig.

Investigators determined that the workers might have survived the fire had the company provided the workers with flame-retardant clothing and personal hydrogen sulfide monitors. However, the company also failed in their responsibility to prevent the contact between the gases and flammable liquids and the ignition source. The fines that were proposed by OSHA totaled $50,400.

OSHA's area director said although the maximum fines were proposed, it will provide no solace to the grieving family. They will have to adjust to life without their loved ones and face the financial difficulties that are typically associated with such a loss. Some level of financial relief is available for families in Colorado and other states through the workers' compensation insurance program. Covered dependents of a worker who died from a fatal workplace injury may pursue death benefits that will provide funds to cover a funeral and burial along with a financial package based on the deceased worker's income.

Source: ehstoday.com, "OSHA: Three Oil Well Service Workers Killed in Rig Fire Lacked Flame-Retardant Clothing", Sandy Smith, Sept.14, 2015

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