Schweigert, Klemin & McBride, P.C.

North Dakota listed among oilfield fatality states

A drilling accident last week near Quinton, Oklahoma put rig explosions in the spotlight nationwide. The accident took the lives of five workers.

An Associated Press report appearing in the Bismarck Tribune pointed out that oilfield fatalities over the past decade have not matched on-the-job worker deaths in other industries.

In 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5,016 workers across all industries were fatally injured at the workplace.

Logging, fisheries, aviation and construction continue to lead in this dubious category, but oilfield fatalities continue to be a serious concern.

In response to the Oklahoma event, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration released data showing that 10 oilfield fatalities occurred at Patterson-UTI drilling sites. Patterson-UTI operated the Quinton site, along with 16 sites along North Dakota's Bakken Range.

Regional accidents cited

OSHA's statistics show that the other Patterson-UTI fatalities occurred in North Dakota, Colorado, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Investigators are working to establish the chain of events at the Quinton site. Initial reports suggest an uncontrolled release of gas that exploded in a fireball. The bodies of five workers were discovered the following day in the rig's "dog house" - the drilling crew's office and rest area.

The accident was the worst on record since British Petroleum's Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, which killed eleven and resulted in the worst offshore oil spill ever.

Since both fatal and nonfatal accidents occur on a state by state basis, surviving family members and accident victims are advised to work with local law firms to obtain proper compensation.

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