Fire at West Virginia Gas Well Injured Workers

A West Virginia company has been cited for serious safety violations by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after a gas well fire in August 2012 injured three workers.

The director of OSHA’s Charleston Area Office, Prentice Cline, is quoted as saying, “The hazardous nature of oil and gas drilling operations requires employers to find and fix the hazards. In this case, ensuring the use of proper personal protective equipment, such as flame-resistant clothing, could have helped in protecting the workers.”

At the time of the incident, West Virginia Public Broadcasting reported that the men were about 400 feet down when an event sparked methane gas that ignited into a flash fire. Two men were taken to a Pittsburgh area hospital. The third man was taken to a hospital in Clarksburg.

The serious safety violations found at the site include failing to ensure the use of flame-retardant clothing from flash fires and burns and to ensure workers were not exposed to fire and gas explosions from uncontrolled gas flow at the well bore. A serious violation is defined by OSHA as occurring when there is substantial probability that death or serious injury could result from a hazard which the employer knew or should have known.

This incident hits close to home, since it happened in our neighboring state of West Virginia and since gas drilling has dotted the landscape of our own home state. While we are encouraged by the potential that gas drilling brings to our area, we are concerned about accidents like this that could harm workers. If you have been involved in an accident at a gas drilling site, there is help for you and your family. Contact the workers’ compensation attorneys at O’Connor Law for a free review of your case.

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