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Fatal Accident Claims A Colorado Man In Oklahoma Drilling Explosion Adding To Its Deadly History

Posted on Friday, February 1st, 2019 at 12:04 pm    

oklahoma drilling explosion killed a colorado man

Photo via Tulsa’s KOTV/NewsOn6.com

With as many as 60 workers being killed in Oklahoma while working on oil and gas drilling sites in just a five-year period, this latest incident adds fuel to this industry’s deadly history. The contractor alone Patterson-UTI has had an average of one worker a year has died over the last decade. This most recent incident was the worst in the States history with five workers instantly killed in an incident. More than 16 other workers were injured and one needed to be airlifted to a hospital by helicopter.

Patterson-UTI’s Safety Record According to OSHA

The company involved in running this rig has the worst safety record in the industry according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In fact, they have seen almost $400,000 in fines for safety violations over the last decade. Many of the more than 140 safety violations that they have been charged with were considered serious. According to company officials, however, Patterson-UTI has vigorously worked to improve its operations along with training and implementing safety practices.

Worst Safety Record In Industry History

The company says that they have quite literally invested millions of dollars to raise their level of training as well as providing protective equipment and instilling a culture of safety among its employees. Even if this is a fact, according to data from OSHA this company is one of the country’s worst violators of safety laws in the workplace.

Oklahoma is not the only state where this company has had a slew of on-site deaths occur. According to one report put out by a US Senate committee the company had 13 deaths occur with their employees in accidents on rigs located in the state of Texas. These deaths occurred over the course of only four years. That alone is a horrendous record.

Another report indicated that 20 employees of this company had died over a five-year period between the years 2002 and 2007. When compared to similar businesses, Patterson-UTI had more than four times the death rate. That is a difference that is very difficult to account for.

Both Federal And State Agencies Investigating The Explosion

This terrible explosion happened at a natural gas drilling rig located in Quinton which is approximately 100 miles Southeast of the City of Tulsa. Although it is still under investigation and no final determination as to its cause has been made, there is a preliminary report indicating that there was an uncontrolled release of gas that led to the explosion and broke out into a raging fire. One of the on-site workers attempted to engage a mechanism that would shut down the well but he was unsuccessful at doing so.

Investigators found the bodies of the five workers who were all located in a room commonly called the dog house. It was used as an office for the crew according to authorities. This incident is considered to be the most deadly since the industrial accident that occurred in 2002 in the Gulf of Mexico, which killed 11 workers.

Oil And Gas Companies Are Inherently Careless On Safety

According to attorneys who specialize in catastrophic workplace accidents, work safety takes a second seat to production.  Employees will continue to be at risk of injury and death until safety regulations are enforced.Oil And Gas explosion accidents - Williams Kherkher lawyer

Inexperienced Workers are Sometimes Blamed For the Accidents

Industry experts say some companies have a difficult time maintaining qualified workers. For this reason, they end up hiring inexperienced workers. This inexperience makes accidents more prevalent.

Often new workers are not only unfamiliar with the safety protocols but also do not understand the common lingo for communicating on the rig. This can lead to fatal mistakes and serious accidents. Companies seriously need to implement substantial training programs that all new workers must complete successfully before working on a rig.

Losing a loved one or suffering a serious injury is devastating. Frequently, people do not want to seek legal help, but just talking with an attorney can help determine if you can get justice and compensation for you or a loved one who has been harmed in a workplace accident or explosion. Let the lawyers at Williams Kherkher get the justice that you deserve. Call us at (888) 220-0640 for a free consultation.  There is a never a charge unless we win financial awards on your behalf.


State Fire Marshal Completes Investigation on Sweetwater Explosion

Posted on Tuesday, January 29th, 2019 at 4:44 pm    

Cell phone footage taken after a home exploded

Image via ktxs.com

A home on Tanya Street in Sweetwater, TX exploded over the weekend. Cellphone footage showed the house smoldering as it was engulfed in flames.

A gas leak was the main cause of the explosion and destroyed the home of Harry and Viv Littleton.

The couple was inside their house on Saturday when the gas line spontaneously exploded. The two of them and their dog Sugar were able to escape the blast with minor injuries.

Harry said that they stepped out and walked across glass and nails.

The Sweetwater Fire Department on Monday morning said that the Texas Fire Marshal’s Office had finished their initial investigation of the incident. According to the fire officials, the Littletons hired a contractor to work on their gas line recently. They also said that the explosion was caused by a gas leak in the attic.

Investigators would not release the contractor’s identity.

Atmos Energy said they took readings in the area surrounding the Littleton’s home after the explosion. They also turned the gas off at one of the homes in the neighborhood that had a leak unrelated to Saturday’s accident.

Starting Over Again for the Littletons

Meanwhile, the Littletons are now looking to rebuild their home and lives. They may have lost their belongings in the explosion, but still have each other. And that’s all that matters to them.

Gas Leak Explosions in Texas Dating Back to 2006

Since 2006 a number of homes in north and central Texas have blown up along a network of pipelines operated by one of the largest gas companies in the United States.This led to nine deaths and 22 injuries.

The Atmos Energy Corp. has some of the country’s oldest pipes and largest divisions. One of these divisions, Atmos Mid-Tex, has received many state safety violations as Houston’s Centerpoint. These safety violations have been denied by Atmos Energy, stating that said violations cited by state regulators have already been fixed. They also said in a statement that their employees “wake up every day resolutely dedicated to our mission to keep people safe.”

Records show that Atmos Energy seldon owns up for explosion incidents, putting blame on outside sources such as bad weather, poor soil conditions in North Texas, lightning strikes, and mysterious sources of underground gas. As for the older pipes, the company said they pipes aren’t sources of issues and that there was only one incident that occurred involving pre-140 pipes.

Although we’d like to replace all older pipelines immediately, just like with replacing older roads and bridges, replacing pipe takes time and resources,” the company said in a statement.

Gas Leaks Explosion lawyer - williamskherkher

How to Prevent Gas Leaks

Checking your home for gas leaks is crucial. Neglecting this can cause accidents and fires. Causes of leaks include appliances with poor ventilation, appliances that were not properly installed, and faulty pipes.

Here are some ways on how to protect you and your family from a potential gas leak.

  1. Regularly check your appliances – Check your appliances regularly and make sure they are in good condition. Replace appliances showing wear and tear.
  2. Watch for the signs of leaks The number one sign of a leak is when you smell the gas in the air or in different parts of your house. Likewise, be aware of appliances that have components that look burnt.
  3. Monitor your gas lines – Call a trusted professional to look into your gas lines. Make sure to get the report of your gas appliances.
  4. Turn off the gas supply if you notice a leak.
  5. Do not smoke – Especially if you can smell a hint of gas at your home.

Losing Someone in an Explosion Accident

Explosions don’t just happen in industrial plants. You or your loved one might be at risk of gas leaks at home and sometimes these incidents happen due to another party’s negligence.

Nevertheless, if you have been injured or lost a loved in a gas explosion,  Williams Kherkher is here to help. We have been handling cases covering explosion accidents in Texas, workplace injury, and vehicle accidents for over 30 years. Visit our office or contact us today for a free consultation.  (713) 230-2200.


Natural Gas Explosions in Texas Brings Forth a Series of New Bills

Posted on Monday, January 28th, 2019 at 3:21 pm    

deadly natural gas company explosions Brings Forth a Series of New Bills

Following a number of deadly natural gas company explosions in Texas, Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) filed a series of bills that will help increase oversight of natural gas companies in Texas.

A Series of Serious Explosions

In January of 2018, a family in North Texas was lucky to escape serious injuries when their home exploded. According to NBCDFW, hours before the explosion, the family already reported the smell of natural gas and a crew from Atmos Energy arrived to investigate.

The crew dug up the road in front of the house to find the leak while the family remained inside their home. Despite the lingering smell of natural gas, officials told them that it is safe for them to stay inside. By 3 AM, they’d asked the workers if it was still safe for them to stay because they were worried about the still-apparent smell of natural gas in the air. The workers said that there is no reason for them to evacuate.

Assured, the family went back to sleep but two hours later, they were awoken with the sound of an explosion and their house on fire.

In Stephenville, Texas, Russell McElyea suffered severe burns when his home exploded. The incident happened in the summer of 2017 when McElyea’s friend, Raul Pedroza lit the stove to cook lunch. There was an explosion, and McElyea still managed to carry his friend out the front door before the back of the house exploded. According to the two friends, they didn’t smell gas before they light up the stove.

A 12-year-old girl, Linda Michellita Rogers, also died last year in a home explosion that was linked to a gas leak.

Atmos Energy Fined

State regulators have fined Atmos Energy $16,000 over safety violations that led to the Irving house explosion last year.

For McElyea and Pedroza’s situations, the case against Atmos Energy is still ongoing.

The Bills

Rep. Anchia said that there are two bill groups — the first group deals with the Railroad Commission as an effective regulator while the second group will deal with the operators of natural gas pipelines that aim to reduce the risk of explosions. The bills are also said to increase transparency both at the Railroad Commission level and among operators. Through this, individuals may check their neighborhoods for leaks and report them immediately to gas companies.

Rep. Anchia also said that rusted, corroded, or faulty pipes in the state must be immediately replaced and infrastructure should meet 21st century standards.

Another important part of Anchia’s legislation would require gas companies to report leaks to the public in real-time through an interactive map.

deadly gas explosions attorneys

Who’s Liable?

Gas explosions often result in traumatic and fatal injuries, and severe burns frequently affect the quality of life of the victim.

In most cases, these explosions can easily be traced to the negligence of an individual or company. However, in the case of the Texas explosions that were mentioned, there is a strong possibility that the company is at fault.

Either way, having the right legal representation to help you recover from a gas explosion is very important.  The legal team at Williams Kherkher has experienced natural gas explosion attorneys that can help you get the compensation and justice that you are entitled to if another party is at fault.

We have dealt with many natural gas explosions over the last 30 years and would be honored to help you and your family fight for your right to live an explosion-free life.

We offer free consultations which you can start by calling us today at (888) 220-0640.


Fire Breaks Out in Montgomery County, Two People Injured

Posted on Friday, January 25th, 2019 at 4:46 pm    

Montgomery County plant fire

A fire broke out in a plant in Montgomery County which lead to its evacuation. The damage wasn’t sufficient enough to be a threat to the surrounding area, but all employees there were evacuated as a precautionary measure. An electrical panel exploded which led to the fire.

Two electricians were injured and had to be rushed to the hospital. Fortunately, the incident did not cause any hazardous chemicals to be leaked, so the community as a whole was safe. This is good news for all but the two who were injured.

How Common Are Work-Related Fires?

It is likely surprising to the average person to learn that there are over 3,000 workplace fires every year. These fires often lead to injuries and death.  Electrical systems are one of the leading causes of fires in the workplace.

If You Or Someone You Know Is Hurt From A Fire In The Workplace Can You Be Compensated?

Regardless of whether it’s a fire or some other reason, if you are injured your employer is required by law to cover you under workman’s compensation. If you are burned by fire or chemicals, or you’re injured from inhaling the smoke from the fire, those are injuries that should be compensated. Regardless of whether the injuries come from the fire or something else you should immediately report any and all injuries to your company and to your doctor.

What Kind Of Benefits Are Paid?

1. Medical Expenses

Any time you’re hurt at work from a fire or any other cause, workman’s compensation should pay for your visits to the doctor, for medication, and for treatment services. If your doctor decides you need to have tests run then this should also be covered. In some cases, if treatment requires travel costs then you may be compensated for that as well.

2. Temporary Disability Compensation

If your injuries cause you to be out of work then you are usually entitled to some type of disability compensation. This compensation should be paid to help cover at least part of your lost wages. When the disability is considered temporary, it is anticipated that you will be able to return to work at some point.

3. Permanent Disability Compensation

If you are determined to be permanently disabled then you’re entitled to be compensated for it. It might be that you lose part or all of certain physical abilities or mental functioning. If you had a brain injury or loss of limb or other permanent injuries, then you are entitled to be fairly compensated for your permanent disability.

4. Displacement Benefits

Most employees are unaware that if the injury causes them to be displaced and they need new training because of it, they can be compensated with a voucher to cover the cost of this retraining. This often comes when someone is found to be permanently disabled and no longer able to do the work that they were previously doing. Provided that the injury happened after 2013, there are additional benefits that may be available to you as well.

5. Death Benefits

When a family member is killed in a work-related accident, their spouse or children will be entitled to death benefits. The amount and the specifics of the compensation will depend on the situation. Under most circumstances, if these benefits are paid out by workman’s compensation, the family will not be able to sue the company for additional payment.

Work-Related Injury - fire explosion

Can You Be Treated By Your Family Physician When You Have A Work-Related Injury?

Because of the fact that many work-related injuries lead to an emergency situation, it may be that an ambulance picks you up and takes you to the hospital in which case you would be treated by the attending emergency room doctor at that time. In other cases, however, your ability to go to your own family physician will depend on whether you requested this right in writing beforehand.

Under workman’s compensation is something called ‘predesignating’. If you want to make sure that you can be seen by your family physician in the case of a work-related injury then you want to go to your company prior to any injury occurring and request the right to do this in writing. Provided that you do so, you should be able to go to that doctor should an injury at work occur.

Make Sure To Report Any Injury Immediately

When a work-related injury is significant or an emergency situation takes place, the very nature of it means that the company is notified and the person is rushed to a hospital. But in many workplace incidents, the injury is not immediately obvious and some employees will simply tell their colleague or supervisor but won’t report it officially. This is a major mistake because, under workman’s compensation, you are usually required to officially report the injury to your company within a maximum of 30 days if you want to receive compensation.

We at Williams Kherkher are always ready to provide our clients the resources and lawyers needed to help bring justice to their side. Call us today at (888) 220-0640 for a free consultation.


Man Dies From Explosion At A Natural Gas Site

Posted on Thursday, January 24th, 2019 at 12:06 pm    

Explosion At A Natural Gas Site

Randy Yellowman was a 47-year-old man originally from New Mexico who died due to an explosion that took place at a natural gas well located in southwest Colorado. He was working alone at the time and was a contract truck driver for a gas and oil company. The exact cause of the explosion is being investigated.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is leading the investigation and several other agencies are also involved. Tribal Police are also participating in the investigation. The well is located on an Indian Reservation that is approximately 6 miles west of Ignacio and approximately 22 miles Southeast of Durango, Colorado.

It appears that Yellowman was in the process of transferring produced water from one of the tanks to his truck when the explosion happened. This type of water is a byproduct of extracting natural gas. At this time it is believed that the accident happened because of a failure with the water tank.

A Significant Percentage Of Oil And Gas Incidents Lead To Fatalities

Every year nationwide, there are oil and gas incidents that lead to injury and death. In a recent year, more than 10% of those involved in an incident died from their injuries. These fatalities occurred across 14 States. The states with the highest rate of incidents include Texas, North Dakota and Oklahoma.

Most of the workers who died worked for service companies.  It is not uncommon for accidents and fatalities to occur while servicing a well and/or working for drilling companies.

What Are The Most Common Causes Of Injury And Fatality In The Oil And Gas Industry?

An estimated 18% of accidents occur while transporting the oil and gas on roadways. Another 15% of accidents happen when an object falls on workers. The incident in southwest Colorado was caused by an explosion.  It’s estimated 15% of oil and gas injuries and fatalities are due to explosions each year.

Fatality In The Oil And Gas Industry Accidents

What Is The FOG Database?

The Fatalities in the Oil and Gas Extraction Industry (FOG) is a system for collecting data that keeps an ongoing collection of information related to accidents and fatalities within the oil and gas industry. The hope is that this information will allow the industry to develop safety practices to reduce injuries and fatalities. This collection of information is used by employers, the government and OSHA.

The data includes all workers that are directly or indirectly involved in the oil and gas industry. Regardless of whether they are in the exploration of petroleum or natural gas, working with wells, or other areas of the industry, they are included in this data. The data includes workers who are paid based on contracts or a fee basis. If a worker is included in this data and is fatally injured then it will be tracked by this system.

How Is FOG Different From The Information Maintained By The Bureau Of Labor Statistics?

FOG is a collection of data specifically related to the oil and gas industry and most specifically with regard to fatalities that happen within that industry. This collection of data includes information that would not be typically maintained with Bureau of Labor Statistics. For instance, there is tracking on employees that suffer cardiac events because it has been found that being exposed to certain chemicals can lead to an event that mimics cardiac failure.

FOG data reveals that an average of eight fatalities occur monthly in the oil and gas industry, and almost half of were in service work.  The next largest group were with individuals working for drilling companies.

Explosion Accident Lawsuit

If you have a loved one who has been harmed in a natural gas explosion, call  our law firm.  We have been helping families and their loved ones since 1983 and continue to do so with our experience, resources and justice for passion. Call us at (888) 220-0640 for a free consultation.  There is never a fee unless we recover compensation for you.


Enbridge Gas Explosion Causes Fireball in Ohio

Posted on Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019 at 4:25 pm    

Enbridge Gas Pipeline Explosion in Ohio

A fireball damaged properties and homes caused by an Enbridge natural gas pipeline in Ohio, prompting nearby residents to evacuate.

Two Homes Engulfed in Flames

Emergency management director Chasity Schmelzenbach said the explosion occurred on Enbridge’s Texas Eastern pipeline system that destroyed two homes.

According to Schmelzenbach, they received reports of flames shooting up from 80 to 200 feet. “You could see it upwards of 10-15 miles away. Lots of people thought it was in their backyard because it does appear large.”

Fire Had Been Contained and Residents Evacuated

Two people were injured and two properties have been damaged in the fire that happened at 10:40 AM. Residents had been evacuated and the fire contained.

Enbridge’s Response

The Calgary-based natural gas company said that they did an immediate isolation of the section of the pipeline, as well as coordinating with the authorities in regards to the incident.

Enbridge Executive Vice President Bill Yardley released a statement stating that they’re “working closely with local officials to restore the incident site safely.”

Details of the explosion has already been relayed to the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and it has sent an investigator to check the scene.

pipeline explosion in Ohio

Photo via Wochit News

Enbridge – Natural Gas Carrier Catering to Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Markets

Enbridge’s Texas Eastern pipeline carries natural gas from Texas and the U.S. Gulf Coast to markets in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic.

Based in Calgary, Canada the company is the largest natural gas provider in the country with customers in Quebec, New York State, and New Brunswick.

They also operate the world’s longest crude oil and liquids transportation system and are focused in the gathering, transportation, processing and storage of natural gas. Enbridge also has an increasing involvement in power transmission.

The Aftermath

It’s not yet clear if the shut-in done by Enbridge would affect clients in some densely populated locations.

A Similar Incident from British Columbia

Another fire incident on an Enbridge gas pipeline in northern British Columbia late last year resulted in numerous refineries in Washington state to temporarily shut down.

Contact Our Explosion Accident Lawyers

The lawyers at Williams Kherkher have been helping injured victims and their families since 1983. Our experience and resources have helped families obtain justice for their loved ones who have been injured or killed in explosion accidents.

If you have lost a loved to a workplace explosion, call us at (888) 220-0640 for a free consultation.


Water Plant Explosion And Fire

Posted on Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019 at 12:21 pm    

Lawrence County Water Plant Explosion

On Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019, there was an explosion in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. The subsequent fire damaged the water treatment and distribution facility where the event happened. Residents living in a nearby mobile home park were left without a functioning water supply. The water facility primarily served only the Heritage Hills Mobile Home Estates. Emergency response crews, including police and firemen, were summoned to the scene.

Residents in the mobile homes previously supplied by the water plant were forced to rely on supplies provided by water buffaloes for the time being.

Workplace Fire Safety

While no one was injured or killed in this particular incident, it was still frightening for the workers and residents.  Even if power stays on, the smoke can create chaos, impact breathing, and burn your eyes. If the power does go out, automated warning systems can fail plunging the area into darkness.

Nobody goes to work expecting an emergency that day, particularly one that might happen to them. However, the reality is that emergencies like fires can happen anywhere, and in an industrial plant, explosions are a risk factor as well.

Implementing Safety Protocols

Unfortunately, incidents like this can happen to anybody anytime.  In these instances, employees and personnel onsite are immediately faced with multiple issues. What’s burning? Where is it? Do we evacuate or put it out? Are there sprinklers, containment systems, and warning devices? How long will it take for first responders to arrive? Does someone need to call them? What is the safest route of escape?

All these questions can turn into life and death matters, and there are multiple questions to be answered quickly. If the employees have been trained to follow the right protocols and plans, many fire emergencies can be prevented in the first place. However, no amount of prevention can be be foolproof, so plans must be in place that protect people and minimize property damage if and when a fire does occur.

explosion accidents attorney - williamskherkher

Making An Action Plan

Effective action plans start with brainstorming worst-case situations. A team of leaders and employees should be assembled to identify which areas where a fire might most likely start, cause the most damage, present the most danger to people on the scene and spread more quickly. An action plan should be tailored specifically to the workplace.   It might be necessary to have unique plans for each department or area. Consideration should also be given to how accessible an area might be to emergency responders summoned to the scene.

Recovery Of Costs And Compensation

Contact our lawyers at Williams Kherkher to learn more about filing a lawsuit regarding situations like these. Our explosion accident attorneys can also provide you with expert insight and legal guidance. If you have a loved one who has been harmed in this type of accident, we are always ready to help. Call us now at (888) 220-0640 for a free consultation.


Retired Firefighter Killed In Lubbock Area Explosion

Posted on Sunday, January 20th, 2019 at 12:45 pm    

Quanah Explosion Killed Retired Firefighter

Photo via KSWO7News

Two fires broke out inside of a Lubbock area auto repair store yesterday. The first resulted in an explosion that killed a man.

Retired Firefighter Killed in the Explosion

Three individuals were inside the shop when the initial fire started. Two of them were outside, but one man was still indoors and was later identified as 69-year-old Robert Floyd Pierce. The two men outside survived and were taken to UMC Lubbock.

Sheriff Laughery identified Pierce as a retired firefighter, having served in the Vernon fire department. The sheriff noted that this was a tragedy and offered prayers to the deceased’s family.

Investigation Underway

Fire marshalls were initially unable to determine the cause of the explosion. The second fire happened in the middle of the evening while press were still reporting from the scene.  It was later determined that the fires were the result of a malfunctioning tank and additional details will follow.

Photo via KSWO7News

Photo via KSWO7News

Accidental Explosions Of Man-Made Nature

Accidental explosions from man-made sources are somewhat rare but not unheard of. The largest was in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia during World War I when a freighter full of ammunition collided with another vessel. The resulting explosion killed over 2,000 people, which was more than the combat losses Nova Scotia suffered in the actual conflict.

Explosions today are significantly less severe thanks to more than a century of advancement in technology, awareness, and safety techniques. Yet, they still happen. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, several hundred people die annually at work from explosions and fires.

Consulting An Attorney After An Explosion Or Fire

If you or a loved one is injured in a fire or explosion, obviously seek medical attention immediately, but also consult an attorney as quickly as possible.  The lawyers at Williams Kherkher are here to help. We have been handling workplace accidents, explosions and fires since 1983.  Call us at (888) 220-0640 today for a free confidential consultation.

Never do business with a lawyer who says over the phone they can win your case without hearing the particulars first. No professional legal representation can guarantee a win.

 

Have you or a loved one been injured in an accident?

Contact us today at (888) 220-0640 to get a free, confidential case evaluation.