Cutting Corners: Oil and Gas Rig Explosions on the Rise

There is a large rush to tap into the Marcellus Shale gas reserve here in West Virginia, as well as other states. A lot of people don’t realize it, but drilling and getting natural gas out of the earth is not just drilling a hole in the ground and capturing the gas that comes out. These are complex rigs that have complex safety rules. You’ve got to be very careful extracting natural gas from the earth. You have to be very careful about how you capture it and pipeline it. You are reading about these incidents because people are rushing to get to these sources of natural gas and mistakes are being made.

Proper safety precautions are not being taken to protect workers and people around the area from escaping gas catching fire, or by-products catching fire and explosions. Management and the people at the site who are responsible for safety, need to understand that these steps are paramount and profit is secondary.

If you take the shortcut, do the job in a quick but not safe way – people are going to get hurt. What you are reading about in your newspapers and hearing about on your news when you’re driving home or on the TV at night, are instances where critical safety devices or safety precautions have not been in place. There is an exposure and then an explosion and or/burn or fire.

I had a case where someone previously welded the wrong kind of pipe together and it blew a 23-year old West Virginia man 65 feet in the air up the pipeline. But it was no fault of his own. The line had been buried for years before it blew up. So those are the kind of quick steps and shortcuts that occur and maybe today or maybe tomorrow or maybe not for a couple of years, is going to cost somebody their life or their livelihood.

I will tell you that here at the Segal Law Firm, over the past 30 years, one of the things that I work the hardest on everyday is how do I take a complex explosion, how do I take a complex welding problem, how do I take a complex safety regulation and make that as easy for a jury to understand as why you wear your safety belt.

When you start to break it down to its simplest elements, you will often find that these horrific burn injuries and deaths are as a result of a chain reaction of people jumping over a safety rule and taking a shortcut. Sometimes it’s one, sometimes it’s two, sometimes it’s three but the reason I call it a chain reaction is each one of those shortcuts, builds and builds and builds until – boom – someone got hurt.

If you’ve got any questions about accidents or if you’ve been injured or if you have a loved one whose been injured and you’re looking for help, call the Segal Law Firm at (855) 344-9100.