Two oilfield workers, Juan Rios and Olegario Rios, were fatally injured in an oil well blowout in Barstow late last week. The well has been shut down since the explosion and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating what went wrong that lead to the deaths of the two men as well as serious injuries to two other workers.
The oil well is operated under a lease to Anadarko. Initial reports note that a crew was rigging up the well when the explosion occurred throwing the crew from the scene. Jose Cruz and Roman Galindo were injured in the well explosion and were airlifted to Lubbock for medical treatment. Both sustained burn injuries in the explosion.
Rigging up an oil well presents serious dangers of oil field accidents. According to OSHA, rigging up a well can increase the likelihood that an oil field worker may suffer:
- Falls from heights, trip and falls or slip and falls
- Mast injuries including being caught in rigging lines, being caught between the mast and the cradle or being struck by a mast as it falls if anchor lines fail
- Oil spray exposure
Serious injuries to oil workers limbs are possible if finger, hands, arms or legs get caught up in the mast cabling.
In addition to these mechanical dangers, the risk of explosion on an oil rig is quite high due to the presence of 1- fuel and 2- many potential ignition sources, including:
- Sparks from an internal combustion engine
- Sparks from welding
- Open flames
- Power tools
- Two-way radios
It’s not just the oil itself that can fuel a serious fire after an explosion; vapors and gases coming from the well itself may be highly flammable as well.
Source: News Channel 10, “Two Killed, Two Injured After Well Blowout Near Barstow,” April 6, 2013