The oil and gas industry in Colorado is expanding rapidly. Sadly, as more wells open, more workers are injured at work — sometimes fatally. Safety advocates are increasingly concerned because there seems to be no enforcement when explosions and fires in the oilfields cause death and injuries to workers and the public because many activities are taking place in close proximity to communities.
A spokesperson for the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission says this body lacks the authority to take appropriate action. He says that the devastating blast of April 17 that caused two deaths at a Firestone facility has been followed by about 12 more explosions — two of which led to employee fatalities. Although the COGCC governs the orderly and safe extraction of gas and oil without harming public safety and the environment, the body has no authority penalize or punish companies that are responsible for explosions.
Following the explosion at Firestone, state regulators of the oil and gas industry have proposed modifications to current rules. The changes relate to flowlines, which are the pipelines that run under the well pads but are close to buildings in many instances. The spokesperson said the state has failed to take any action, and even if changes are implemented, none of the proposed modifications to rules addresses industrial accidents that lead to fatalities.
As matters stand, it appears as if workers on the oil and gas fields of Colorado will remain at risk of being injured at work. Victims who are entitled to workers’ compensation insurance may file benefits claims to cover medical expenses and lost wages. Similarly, surviving family members of workers who were killed in oil field explosions may seek coverage of funeral and burial costs along with wage-replacement packages by filing death benefits claims. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can assist with the navigation of such claims.
Source: greeleytribune.com, “A dozen fires and explosions at Colorado oil and gas facilities in 8 months since fatal blast in Firestone“, Bruce Finley, Dec. 7, 2017