Houston, TX (Law Firm Newswire) May 6, 2014 - A Texas man was killed at a Rice Energy Inc. gas drilling site in Belmont County, Ohio.
David Zamora, 43, of Victoria, Texas was an employee of subcontractor Lee Specialties Ltd. He was crushed by a piece of heavy equipment on Saturday, April 5.
In its statement, Rice Energy did not explain what type of equipment had killed Zamora. No one else was injured. “Relatively speaking, oil and gas drilling is a dangerous occupation,” said Houston personal injury attorney Richard LaGarde, who is not involved with the case. “Nevertheless, workers have the right to a reasonable level of safety at all times. Investigators have a lot of important questions to ask in an accident like this. Were all safety protocols properly observed prior to the accident? Was the subcontractor made aware of the specific hazards present at the job site? Was there a failure of equipment, and if so, was that equipment properly maintained?”
This is the first fatality for the natural gas industry in Belmont County. Rice Energy is nearing completion of its first Utica Shale gas well. It is also the first major incident at a Rice Energy site, according to a statement from Mike Lauderbaugh, the company's vice president of environmental health and safety.
Operations at the site have been suspended temporarily as the company and authorities investigate the accident. The company said the suspension was self-imposed and that when operations resume, they will be “conducted in the safest manner possible.”
According to Charlie Dixon, the safety and workforce training administrator for the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program, the Ohio oil and gas industry had four fatalities in 2013, two of which occurred in driving accidents. And the Occupational Safety and Health Administration puts the industry's national death toll from 2003 to 2010 at 823.
“When accidents occur at work sites, you can't always count on corporate and government investigators to go digging and find out if there's more to the accident than meets the eye,” LaGarde added. “I recommend that anyone whose family member was killed in an industrial accident speak with an experienced personal injury attorney.”
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