Six months after a large oil well explosion claimed the lives of three workers, federal regulators have levied a roughly $50,000 fine against the West Texas-based employer. The company, Mason Well Service, was cited and subsequently fined $50,400 by officials from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) earlier this week.
According to records of the incident, the oil company failed to keep flammable liquids and gases apart from ignition sources on site. OSHA regulators also noted that in addition to this safety violation, the company did not require workers to wear hydrogen sulfide monitors and flame-resistant gear, as would be standard procedure around such chemicals.
Additionally, OSHA officials reported that the company allowed workers to smoke cigarettes in dangerous locations near the well. There is documented evidence that the company had been cited and penalized for similar violations in 2014.
Although fines handed down earlier this week are the maximum amount permitted by law, many believe, especially in this case, it has come time to increase OSHA’s ability to more severely punish negligent companies. In support of this argument, advocates state that the caps on many workplace penalties have not been increased by Congress since 1990 - a time when the purchasing power of a dollar was close to double what it is now.
Every worker in America is entitled to a safe workplace, and it is unfortunate to hear stories of employers that violate the rights of employees in any way - particularly when the results turn deadly. At The Daspit Law Firm, we are devoted to protecting the rights of injured workers not only to ensure they receive just compensation for their losses, but also to do our part in exposing employer negligence and prompting change that can prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.