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Rig explosions highlight oil field dangers

A rig explosion can result in disaster for any worker who is near the site of a blast, making oil field safety a priority. Nevertheless, it seems that some oil companies and drilling contractors are not taking appropriate measures to keep their workers safe.

One drilling contractor in particular, which operates drilling sites in New Mexico, North Dakota, Colorado, Texas and Pennsylvania, has committed some serious safety errors over the last decade resulting in the deaths of ten workers.

Patterson-UTI associated with numerous worker deaths

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined the oil drilling contractor Patterson-UTI close to $367,000 during the last decade for over 140 OSHA safety violations. The company has also seen ten of its workers die in the same timeframe due to workplace accidents. The most recent Patterson-UTI accident happened last week after a rig explosion claimed the lives of five workers.

Patterson-UTI claims that it has made great strides in improving its worker safety record, saying, "In recent years, we have invested millions of dollars on training and protective equipment and worked to instill a company-wide culture where safety is the top priority of each employee."

Nevertheless, in 2008, a U.S. Senate committee referred to Patterson-UTI as one of the biggest violators of workplace safety regulations in the United States. During the time of that study, 13 workers had been killed during a four-year period of time in Texas oil rig accidents.

In this most recent accident, a blast happened after a natural gas drilling facility began to leak and then caught fire. An employee attempted to shut the drilling well down, but did not succeed. The following day, five deceased workers were found in the "dog house," a room in the rig reserved as the drilling crew's office.

Was your loved one killed in an oil field accident?

Unfortunately, deaths at oil fields and oil drilling sites are more common than they should be in Texas. In the event that someone dies in such an accident, family members may wish to investigate the reasons why the accident occurred. They may also want to learn about their legal right to receive family member death benefits, and the strength and viability of pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit relating to their loved one's death.

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