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Exposure to Oil Tank Fumes Leads to Death of Oklahoma Oilfield Worker

Oil Tank Fume Exposure Wrongful Death

An employee of C&M Roustabout Company tragically died after being exposed to fumes while working inside an oil tank in McClean County, Oklahoma. The oil tank was located at a site owned by Charter Oak Production. The employee who lost his life was only 30 years old. 

News reports indicate the employee was installing a tank gauge when he encountered fumes emanating from the tank. After breathing in the fumes, the employee reportedly collapsed into crude oil that was in the bottom of the tank, approximately 12 to 18 inches of crude oil.

Investigation Into Oklahoma Oilfield Accident

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the federal agency tasked with investigating workplace incidents, launched an investigation into this deadly oil tank accident. There are many questions that need to be answered about this incident and the events leading up to the employee’s tragic death. Some of those questions may include:

  • Did a manager or supervisor direct the 30-year-old victim to go into the oil tank? 
  • Was appropriate safety gear and protective equipment provided by the employer?
  • Were applicable safety regulations and protocols reviewed and made available to the 30-year-old victim prior to commencing work? 

Unfortunately, serious injuries and loss of life are not uncommon for workers in the oil and gas industry. In fact, OSHA has confirmed that workplace injuries are prevalent in the oil industry and one of the sectors most commonly affiliated with serious workplace accidents. 

Dangers of Oil Tanks and Exposure to Toxic Fumes

OSHA has published guidance documents highlighting the safety risks associated with working in and around oil tanks. The federal agency described some of the safety hazards associated with working in a confined space (e.g., inside an oil tank) to include asphyxiation, exposure to toxic chemicals and fumes, and potential ignition of flammable vapors or gasses. This is why OSHA states that confined spaces, like the interior of oil tanks, must be classified as permit-required confined spaces, tested prior to entry, and continuously monitored. 

Permit-required confined spaces, according to OSHA, may contain hazardous or potentially hazardous atmosphere, material which can engulf an entrant, walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward and taper into a smaller area which could trap or asphyxiate an entrant, and/or other serious physical hazards such as unguarded machines or exposed live wires. 

These serious safety risks are why OSHA requires employers to inform exposed employees of the existence and location of such permit-required confined spaces and their recognized health hazards. Did the 30-year-old victim’s employer provide him with the necessary information about the risks of entering the oil tank? This question needs to be answered and, hopefully, an investigation into the deadly oil tank accident will shed light on how such a tragic incident occurred. 

Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Oklahoma

Pursuant to Oklahoma law, a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed by a spouse, parent, or child who lost a loved one due to the careless actions (or inactions), negligence, or wrongful conduct of an individual or company. The law allows a personal representative of the decedent (deceased) to file a wrongful death suit on behalf of the beneficiaries. The decedent’s personal representative is the person named as executor in the deceased’s will, or if there is no will, a personal representative may be named by the court.

If no personal representative is named, the surviving spouse or next of kin can proceed with filing a wrongful death lawsuit. 

Wrongful Death Damages

Recoverable forms of compensation from a wrongful death lawsuit are set forth by Oklahoma law and include the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Burial expenses;
  • Funeral expenses
  • Pecuniary loss, which includes the loss of current and future monetary support;
  • Loss of consortium and the mental pain and anguish suffered by the surviving spouse; 
  • Grief and loss of companionship of the children and parents of the decedent; 
  • Exemplary or punitive damages (depending on the specific facts and circumstances surrounding the incident)

Undefeated Oklahoma Oilfield Accident Lawyers

With Billions Won for Our Clients and the #1 Largest Verdicts and Settlements in History, our Oklahoma oilfield injury lawyers have consistently proven that we don’t just win for injured workers and their families – We Set Records.

If you or a loved one were injured in an oilfield accident, contact our Undefeated Oil Rig Injury Lawyers at 1-888-603-3636, use the chat form on our website, or send us a confidential email through our Contact Form by clicking here.

We’ll answer your questions, explain all of your rights and options, and provide you with information to help you decide what’s best for you and your family.