Undefeated Texas Oilfield Accident Lawyers
A contractor died tragically yesterday afternoon when he fell from a scaffold while working at an Energy Transfer terminal near Nederland, Texas.
Contractor Fell Several Feet from a Scaffold
The January 29th scaffolding accident occurred shortly before 3:00 p.m. at Energy Transfer’s above-ground crude oil storage facility located in the 2300 block of Twin City Highway, just outside of the Nederland city limits in Jefferson County.
Precinct 7 Justice of the Peace Brad Burnett told ABC12 that the worker was pronounced dead at the scene after falling several feet from a scaffold. While his identity and the name of his employer are being withheld pending family identification, Burnett indicated that the victim was around 30 years old and not a resident of Jefferson County.
So far, it’s not clear what caused yesterday’s deadly scaffolding accidents. An autopsy has been ordered, and the incident remains under investigation.
Scaffolding Falls a Leading Cause of Death in Oil & Gas Sector
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, falls from scaffolding and other heights are one of the leading causes of death in the nation’s oil and gas industry, tragically killing nearly two dozen workers during the 6 years from 2014 through 2019.
In our experience representing thousands of oil and gas workers in Texas and throughout the United States, the majority of injuries and deaths that occur in the sector are entirely preventable. Hazards related to scaffolding, in particular, are often the result of design or construction flaws, such as:
- Scaffold boards with inadequate support
- Use of faulty, damaged, or unsuitable materials
- Scaffolding erected on uneven or insecure ground
- Scaffolding was built without guardrails, or the guardrails have been removed.
- Scaffolding built near energized powerlines
- Cutting corners or modifying the original scaffold design
- Inadequate tie-in and bracing of the scaffolding, allowing for tip-over
- Ladders that aren’t properly secured to the structure
These hazards are even more likely to result in scaffolding accidents when an employer fails to follow an appropriate maintenance and inspection protocol or neglects to train workers on the hazards associated with the specific type of scaffold being used and how to identify, control, or minimize those risks.
Understanding OSHA Scaffolding Regulations
The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) established clear guidelines to mitigate the risks for all types of scaffolding, including requirements for:
- Scaffolding Design and Construction: Scaffolds may only be designed, constructed, and erected by qualified and trained personnel. They must be capable of supporting their own weight and at least four times the maximum intended load.
- Inspection and Maintenance: A competent person, defined as someone able to identify existing and potential hazards, must inspect scaffolds before every work shift and after any occurrence that could impact the structure’s integrity.
- Proper Assembly and Disassembly: Scaffolds must be erected, moved, dismantled, or altered under the supervision of a competent person, following all applicable manufacturer guidelines and OSHA regulations.
- Platform Construction and Access: Scaffold platforms should be fully planked and have a secure means of access. OSHA regulations require that platforms be at least 18 inches wide, with no more than a 14-inch gap between adjacent planks.
- Fall Protection: OSHA requires the use of guardrails, personal fall arrest systems, or other means of fall prevention.
- Training: OSHA requires employers to provide specific training through “a qualified person” to any employee who performs work while on a scaffold
Steps Oil & Gas Workers Should Take After a Scaffolding Accident
If you were hurt in a scaffolding accident, you might be entitled to pursue compensation beyond the workers’ compensation benefits you’re already owed, particularly if an equipment manufacturer or other third party contributed to injuries. However, you must act quickly and take the necessary steps to preserve your legal rights.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Getting immediate medical care is paramount. Even if the injury seems minor, internal injuries or complications can initially go unnoticed. Prompt medical attention ensures that any potential injuries are adequately assessed and treated and that they’re officially documented should you choose to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the parties responsible for your scaffolding accident.
Report the Incident
Like any workplace incident, a scaffolding accident should be reported to a supervisor or the appropriate personnel as soon as possible. Once you’ve reported the incident, be sure to make copies of all related paperwork and keep all documentation in a secure place.
Document the Scene and Injuries
If you are physically able to do so, take photographs of the scene, the injuries sustained, and any factors that may have contributed to the scaffolding accident or your injuries. This documentation will serve as tangible evidence to support your claims and help establish liability in legal proceedings. Documenting the scene and your resulting injuries can also aid investigators and experts as they work to reconstruct an accurate recounting of events.
Collect Witness Information
Gathering the names and contact details of anyone who witnessed the scaffolding accident is essential. Witnesses can provide valuable testimonies and accounts of the incident, which can strengthen your case if legal action is necessary. Their statements can corroborate your version of events and provide additional perspectives on factors that may have contributed to the accident.
Consult with an Experienced Oilfield Accident Attorney
Seeking legal advice is crucial to understanding your rights to pursue all available legal remedies. An experienced attorney specializing in oilfield accidents can assess your case, guide you through the legal process, ensure you and your family are treated fairly, and receive the compensation and support you deserve.
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Our Undefeated Oilfield Injury Lawyers have won billions – including the #1 largest oilfield accident recoveries in US history – for oil and gas workers seriously injured, catastrophically burned, and tragically killed in preventable accidents and explosions while working at well sites, drilling operations, refineries, storage facilities, and distribution terminals throughout Texas and across the United States.
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