Petroleum Safety for Workers

December 10, 2019

Oil and gas extraction workers face many hazards on the job, including confined spaces, chemical exposures, and explosions. Serious injuries and fatalities can occur when safety standards and best practices are not followed in the workplace. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 489 gas and oil extraction workers were killed on the job between 2013 and 2017. One such fatality earlier this month in a refining facility underscores the importance of petroleum safety for workers.

Worker Asphyxiates in Confined Space

An Alabama employee was working in a permit-required confined space when he asphyxiated due to lack of air supply. A permit-required confined space is defined by OSHA as one that has at least one of the following:

  • Hazardous atmosphere or the potential to contain hazardous atmosphere
  • Material that has the potential to engulf workers
  • Walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward into a smaller area in which a worker could become trapped
  • Any other recognized safety or health hazard

Employers must evaluate the workplace to determine if permit-required spaces exist and, if so, inform employees of the existence and location of the danger. They must also develop and implement an OSHA-compliant permit space program for employees who enter permit spaces. There are also other applicable standards, such as those governing internal atmosphere testing, adequate air ventilation, protecting entrants from external hazards, and providing personal protective equipment (PPE).

OSHA Issues Citations and Fines for Safety Violations

After investigating the circumstances of the fatality, OSHA issued several citations for noncompliance with required safety standards. The petroleum refinery and industrial contractor now face $106,080 in fines for failing to:

  • Ensure that employees outside the confined space were capable of rescue efforts
  • Provide workers with sufficient lighting equipment
  • Allow the rescue team to respond to emergencies without being assigned other tasks
  • Identify hazards in the confined space
  • Take steps to ensure that employees are safe while working in confined spaces

Death Benefits in Pennsylvania

Those whose loved ones were killed in work accidents may need an attorney to help them navigate the legal process of obtaining compensation. It is advisable to contact a qualified, local attorney as the law on workers’ compensation varies by state.

In Pennsylvania, families of workers who died as a result of a work-related injury may be eligible to collect death benefits, including up to $3,000 in burial expenses. The amount of compensation available varies according to the decedent’s average weekly wage prior to their injury and how many survivors requested benefits.

Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, employees must report injuries to their employers within 120 days to remain eligible for compensation. Those who suffer injuries or illnesses from workplace hazards, such as confined spaces, chemicals, or fires may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses and lost wages, in addition to other benefits.

Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Help Oil and Gas Extraction Workers Obtain Benefits

If you were injured or you lost a loved one in an oil and gas extraction accident, contact a Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Our skilled attorneys have represented injured workers in Philadelphia and throughout the state for over 40 years. To schedule a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 888-PITT-LAW.

Located in PhiladelphiaBensalemLansdowne, and Reading, we represent injured workers in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County and throughout Pennsylvania, including those in the communities of Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Clifton Heights, Crum Lynne, Darby, Downingtown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill, Essington, Folcroft, Glenolden, Haverford, Havertown, Holmes, Kutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion Station, Morton, Narberth, Norristown, Norwood, Philadelphia, Prospect Park, Quakertown, Reading, Roxborough, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, West Chester, and Wynnewood.

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