Workers nationwide, including in Colorado, are at a significant risk of suffering heat-related illnesses during the summer months. Despite the multiple warnings issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, many employers fail to provide adequate heat protection for their workers. The girlfriend of an oilfield worker and his two young sons now have to adjust to life without their father. He died recently after he contracted an illness caused by heat exhaustion while re-working an oil well in another state.
An accident report indicates that three workers were moving pipe and tubing onto the well site when one of them apparently said he was taking a break because he felt unwell. The crew became concerned when he failed to return and went looking for him. The man was found in an unresponsive condition, lying beside his vehicle.
According to his girlfriend, the worker was taken to a hospital at which time his temperature was measured at 110 degrees. She says his heart failed twice before it ultimately stopped, and medical personnel could not revive him again. An OSHA investigation into the incident is reportedly underway. OSHA noted that heat illness is preventable, and as is evident in this case, it can be deadly. The agency reiterated that employers are responsible for monitoring the health of workers during periods of high heat and for providing protection from exposure to excessive heat.
The surviving family of a Colorado worker who dies after he or she contracted an illness that is work-related may pursue compensation from the workers’ compensation insurance fund to cover end-of-life expenses. Death benefits claims may be filed with workers’ compensation for financial assistance in covering a funeral and burial. The fund typically also provides the victim’s dependents with a financial package based on the deceased worker’s salary level.
Source: oilfieldfamilies.com, “30 Year Old Oilfield Worker — Dies after working in extreme heat“, Accessed on July 10, 2015