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Lack of supervision blamed for fatal gas well explosion

In a report they released on Aug. 6, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection concluded that a fatal gas well explosion was caused by the actions of an untrained and unsupervised contract worker. The explosion in Green County resulted in the death of another worker, a 27-year-old man from Warren who was expecting a baby with his girlfriend.

The fatal workplace injury happened at a Chevron Corp gas well on Feb. 11 of this year. When the victim attempted to inspect a Lanco 7H well, he was killed in a powerful explosion that continued to burn for the next four days. Before his death, the man had apparently gone to the well when he heard the hissing sound of high-pressure gas escaping.

The DEP report blames both the worker who failed to properly tighten a lock pin and the inexperienced worker's supervisor for the victim's death. According to the report, the so-called 'greenhat" was neither supervised nor trained in the manipulation of lock pins. The report claims that the well site manager who should have inspected his work spent the majority of his workday doing paperwork in his trailer. Members of the deceased man's family have reportedly filed a lawsuit against Chevron.

When an investigation finds that an employer was to blame for a fatal workplace accident, the victim's family members may take the time to file a civil lawsuit. If family members wish to be compensated for their loss in a timely manner, however, they might decide to file for workers' compensation death benefits immediately after the fatal accident. In some cases, a family may want to speak to an attorney about whether or not they are entitled to use both of these avenues to seek compensation for their loss.

Source: Reuters, "Death at Pennsylvania gas well blamed on human error, poor supervision", David Dekok, August 06, 2014

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