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OSHA Investigates Fatal West Texas Natural Gas Explosion

Neither company that has ties to a lethal natural gas blowout that occurred on Friday is speaking up about what may have caused it. The blowout, which occurred while several men were working on a maintenance rig in Ward County, caused the men to be thrown from the equipment when the rig pierced an area of pressurized natural gas. The blowout left two workers dead and three injured.

The well is owned by Andarko Petroleum Corp., and the workers involved in the tragic incident were employees of Basic Energy Services. Individuals from both companies only offered general statements about the incident, either saying that they were taking care of their employees or cooperating with Occupational Safety and Health Administration Officials.

Although it is likely that neither company involved in this accident wants to take responsibility for it, an OSHA investigation should reveal what went wrong to cause this fatal blowout.

In the oil industry, it's no secret that work can be risky. That does not mean, however, that employers can use that as an excuse for becoming lax on safety measures. In fact, employers in particularly dangerous industries should take their workers' safety even more seriously. When they do not, serious injuries and even death can occur on their worksites. Fortunately, OSHA exists to keep employers in check.

If OSHA investigators find rule violations played a role in the injury and deaths of the men involved in this recent Texas accident, both companies involved could face substantial fines. Hopefully this will encourage them and other companies in Texas and across the country to ensure that their premises are up to safety standards.

Source: fuelfix.com, "Feds probe lethal blowout in West Texas," Zain Shauk, April 8, 2013

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