The risk for
work accidents from explosions and fires is higher in the Bakken where oil and gas drilling
occurs. When oil and gas extraction began, many fire departments were
not acquainted with the activities taking place at drilling sites. Often
fire response agencies, functioning with volunteers, lacked experience
dealing with concentrated flammable materials. In addition, there was
frequently a shortage of water fighting equipment.
Energy Wire writes that compared to other industry, the oil and gas industry
as a whole accounts for more fire and explosion fatalities. The industry
is responsible for
10% of workplace fire and explosion fatalities despite employing less than
1% of the workforce. In 2013 there were ten such fatalities. Flash fires
and explosions are responsible for 20-75% of well site accidents
While OSHA lacks a set of standards that is specific to the gas and oil
drilling industry, it does regulate it under its General Duty Clause applying
to many industries. The American Petroleum Institute is the default organization
that sets the safety standard adopted by most states and many federal agencies.
Currently, OSHA standards for preventing fires and fire-related injuries
cover delineating exit routes and creating fire prevention and emergency
response plans. OSHA also mandates worker access to flame-resistant clothing
and storage of flammable liquids but has no guidelines for the industry
on the required response in case of fire.
What happens is the local fire department shoulders the burden when an
emergency occurs. Dealing with fires at Bakken drilling sites is complex
especially when there are multiple storage tanks and wellheads on location.
Besides flammable biocides and acids, fracking fluid is extremely flammable
with plenty of ignition sources spread around a site sometimes found in
a remote location with limited access to water and foam.
When you sustain injury from a workplace accident, you could be entitled
to recover workers’ compensation. The coverage can help you pay
for medical expenses, rehabilitation, lost wages or potential wages, and
pain and suffering. Please
contact us for help when dealing with a Bakken-related work injury.