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Injured workers suing Houston companies over fatal oilrig blast

We have noted before on this blog about the inherent risks oil and gas industry workers of the line face day to day. Most people likely have little appreciation for the hazardous nature of the various jobs. But the workers do, and besides getting the proper training and taking well-established precautions, those workers count on their employers to ensure that the environments they have to work in are as safe as they can be.

Whether the work is being done on one of the many stretches of pipeline that now spread from across the country to Texas and Louisiana, or it is being performed on one of the many drilling platforms out in the waters of the Gulf, employers are obliged to make sure conditions don't develop that could result in catastrophic injury- or death-causing accidents. Sadly, all too often, that doesn't happen and results are disastrous. 

This appears to be one of the central claims of lawsuits filed this month against two Houston-based firms. The suits allege that the companies' negligence led to an explosion on an oil platform off the Louisiana coast last month that left one worker dead and two others injured. The workers were reportedly cleaning a heater treater device used to separate oil from other elements pulled from the earth when the blast occurred.

The suits accuse platform owner Fieldwood Energy and Island Operating Co., which was also working on the rig, of failing to make sure that all flammable materials in the equipment had been cleared out before the cleaning began. The result was what one suit describes as "a disaster waiting to happen."

In addition to the fatality, one of the workers suffered multiple bone fractures and concussions. The second injured worker lost hearing in one ear and has only partial hearing in the other.

Federal officials are investigating the blast, but that probe could take more than a year to complete. In the meantime, the injured workers are working with attorneys to pursue their rights to seek compensation through civil action.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "Lawsuits allege negligence led to fatal oil platform blast," Jennifer A Dlouhy, Dec. 4, 2014

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