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Gulf of Mexico — Accident on Shell Offshore Drilling Platform Kills 2

Posted on Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019 at 1:51 pm by Williams Hart   

Representatives of Royal Dutch Shell has reported that around 10 A.M on Sunday, June 30th, two people were killed on the Auger Tension Leg Platform, located approximately 214 miles southwest of New Orleans, while testing mandatory safety equipment. 

Officials stated that a Shell employee and a contractor with Danos Inc., an oilfield services provider, were conducting a routine test of a lifeboat launch and retrieval capabilities when they were tragically killed. Another individual sustained injuries and was transported to a hospital for treatment.

The names of the victims have not yet been released. No further details on the nature of the accident have been provided.

Our condolences are with the families of all three victims involved during this difficult time. 

The U.S. Coast Guard and the Bureau of Safety Environmental Enforcement will be conducting their own investigations. 

Deepwater Death Toll

The incident on the Auger Platform follows two separate offshore platform accidents that occurred on May 29th and June 1st, resulting in the deaths of two employees. 

A major source of oil and natural gas for the United States, the western and central Gulf of Mexico is now home to approximately 175 offshore drilling rigs that produce 1.65 million barrels of oil per day (2017). 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2003-2013 the U.S. oil and gas extraction industry experience unprecedented growth leading to a doubling of its workforce and an increase in the number of drilling rigs by 71%. The number of work-related fatalities in the oil and gas extraction industry increased by 27.6%, with a total of 1,189 deaths. 

These tragedies are a reminder that the safety of energy-industry professionals, especially on deepwater platforms, must be carefully regulated and enforced to ensure that all employees will go home to their families at the end of their shift.

The Consequences of Regulatory Safety Rollbacks

This past May, just before the unfortunate deaths of these employees, The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) made public its regulatory safety rollbacks that will dismantle security standards for offshore drilling rig operations that were implemented after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. 

These rule cuts follow the current administration’s plan to vastly expand oil and natural gas drilling off the nation’s gulf coast line. Additionally, the revisions will reportedly save an estimated $1.5 billion over the next 10 years. 

The following list is a comprehensive summary of safety revisions to take effect 60 days after its submission to the Federal Registrar:

  • Reduces testing of blowout preventers–a large, specialized valve used to seal, control and monitor oil and gas wells.
  • Reduces 30-minute safety tests every 14 days, to 5-minute tests every 21 days. 
  • Eliminates a requirement that companies report some of those safety-test results to the Interior Department.
  • Removes a requirement for an Interior Department approved independent expert to verify safety measures and equipment used in offshore drilling operations.
  • Removes a requirement that drilling operators provide real-time data from wells to onshore observers.

While many industry professionals praise the dismantling of these safety precautions, citing that the motion will eliminate unnecessary regulatory burdens, others have voiced their concerns that relaxed rules will lead to a surge in workforce injuries.

The Auger Platform accident and those that preceded are yet another warning against these safety regulation reforms, and we cannot allow the families of these victims to be ignored.

Occupational injuries and fatalities in the oil and gas industry are especially probable when safety precautions are overlooked or eliminated from daily operations. Fortunately, there are lawyers who specialize in oil and natural gas injury cases and can help you get the justice that you or your family deserve.

If someone you love was seriously hurt or killed in an accident, you may be unsure of where to turn. The attorneys of Williams Hart have experience helping people through the aftermath of catastrophic accidents, and we can help you too. Contact our law firm at (800) 220-9341 to speak with an experienced lawyer today.

Note: We report on the types of accidents and injuries our law firm has experience handling. Our hearts go out to victims of the accidents described on this blog, and we hope that future accidents, injuries, and deaths can be prevented. These posts are gathered from recent stories in the news. As new developments occur, these stories are often updated. If information contained within this article is false or outdated, please contact us so we can include the new information or make a correction.

Disclaimer: Williams Hart hopes that by showing how often catastrophic accidents occur, we can begin a conversation about how to reduce or prevent them. We sincerely hope that the articles on our blog arm readers with the information needed to avoid being involved in such accidents. Content on this blog should not be construed as legal advice.


HOUSTON, TX — Big Rig Operator Killed after Plunging off Ship Channel Bridge

Posted on Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019 at 1:00 pm by Williams Hart   

Authorities are reporting that just before 8:20AM on Wednesday, July 3rd, an 18-wheeler has barreled through the guard rail of the Ship Channel Bridge and onto the roof of a building 150ft below.

The accident occurred on the northbound side of the 610 East Loop just before Buffalo Bayou.

Houston police stated that a smaller vehicle cut the 18-wheeler off and the operator swerved to avoid a collision. The truck tore through the guardrail and landed upside down on a water plant at a facility located on the south bank of the bayou. The driver of the smaller vehicle remained at the scene and is cooperating with authorities. 

The Texas Department of Transportation is evaluating the condition of the bridge, and will be on the site for the next few days. Drivers have been asked to avoid the area.

The driver of the 18-wheeler remains unidentified. This is a developing story.

It is unfortunate to hear of another fatality involving a semi truck. Less than a week ago, 60-year-old Steve Martinez was killed when he swerved to avoid striking another vehicle on the freeway and launched off the Eastex Freeway bridge and into the water.

Our condolences are with the family of the unidentified driver.

Common Causes of Big Rig Accidents

  • Driver fatigue

According to the Texas Trucking Association, the state is short nearly 50,000 truck drivers and that number is only expected to increase. With a rapidly retiring workforce, lack of interest from younger generations, stagnant wages, and increasing freight loads, truck drivers are burdened with longer working hours and less time to get from point A to point B. 

  • Drug and alcohol use

Legal and illegal drug and alcohol use contributes to nearly 65,000 big rig accidents annually. Inconsistent drug and alcohol testing for CDL drivers operating a commercial vehicle is a significant issue. Furthermore, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found that 22 percent of truck drivers were driving while receiving disability benefits for epilepsy, alcohol addiction, or drug dependence.

  • Texting and driving

The likelihood of being involved in an accident on the road is 23.2 times higher for truck drivers who text while behind the wheel than for those who don’t. 

Other common causes: 

  • Overweight freight loads
  • Improper vehicle inspection and maintenance
  • Cargo security
  • Poor road conditions and infrastructure, especially in rural West Texas

 

Road Fatality Prevention Measures

Road accidents involving 18-wheelers and other commercial vehicles are only expected to increase. While it can be difficult to prevent human errors that cause 18-wheeler accidents, there are measures that can be taken to subdue the number of fatalities that are expected to occur in the future:

  • Drivers must adhere to limited work hours regulations, such as the 11-hour driving limit and 60-hour weekly duty limit. If the demand for new truck drivers is to be met, life on the road must be improved with shorter work hours and more time to rest.
  • Practice safe driving, for both truckers and passenger vehicles.
    • No tailgating, use turn signals, minimize lane changing, stay out of blind spots, use caution in work zones and in inclement weather, and apply breaks early.
  • Logistics professionals must be cognizant of safety measures such as land transportation safety policies, routine commercial vehicle inspections, and proper freight load management that would further reduce drivers’ exposure to fatal road hazards.

Get the Justice You Deserve

Road fatalities and injuries involving 18-wheelers are serious realities for both big rig operators and regular vehicle passengers. Fortunately, there are lawyers who specialize in truck driving accident injury cases and can help you get the justice that you or your family deserve.

If someone you love was seriously hurt or killed in an accident, you may be unsure of where to turn. The attorneys of Williams Hart have experience helping people through the aftermath of catastrophic accidents, and we can help you too. Contact our law firm at (800) 220-9341 to speak with an experienced lawyer today.

Note: We report on the types of accidents and injuries our law firm has experience handling. Our hearts go out to victims of the accidents described on this blog, and we hope that future accidents, injuries, and deaths can be prevented. These posts are gathered from recent stories in the news. As new developments occur, these stories are often updated. If information contained within this article is false or outdated, please contact us so we can include the new information or make a correction.

Disclaimer: Williams Hart hopes that by showing how often catastrophic accidents occur, we can begin a conversation about how to reduce or prevent them. We sincerely hope that the articles on our blog arm readers with the information needed to avoid being involved in such accidents. Content on this blog should not be construed as legal advice.


Caitlyn Jenner not charged after fatal accident

Posted on Thursday, October 1st, 2015 at 11:09 am by Williams Hart   

Last February 7 on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, Caitlyn Jenner was involved in a car crash that took the life of Kim Howe. Jenner’s SUV hit Howe’s Lexus from behind, causing it to head towards oncoming traffic, where it was hit by a Hummer.

The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office announced September 30 that Jenner will not be charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter- despite lawsuits already filed by the victim’s adult stepchildren.

Based on reports, the investigation concluded that Jenner was below speed limit and was driving slower than Howe. Although Jenner was not going over the speed limit, she was still driving at an unsafe speed for the condition of the road, according to reports.

Losing a life is devastating, and it is more tragic if another person is at fault. True justice must be served for everyone who is experiencing a loss like this. Our legal team at Williams Hart extends its sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Kim Howe.


71-year-old dies in Carson City accident

Posted on Saturday, September 19th, 2015 at 9:54 am by Williams Hart   

Last Thursday, September 17, a 71-year-old man was killed after he was hit by a pickup truck in Carson City, Nevada. The man was brought to the hospital but died later that night.

It was around 2:50 p.m. when a sheriff responded to the crash at 101 Hot Springs Road. The victim was crossing the street when he was hit by a truck driven by a 68-year-old who was cited for failure to yield to a pedestrian, according to Reno Gazette Journal.

According to the release, the man was trapped under the truck, but he was already removed and still conscious and speaking when the respondents came. He was transported to Renown Medical Center by helicopter.

The sheriff’s office was notified of the victim’s death that same day at around 7:50 p.m.

No one deserves such a tragedy. The legal team at Williams Hart extends their deepest condolences to the friends and family of the victim.

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