Back-to-Back Fatal Accidents in Permian Basin Oilfields

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Onshore oilfields are among the most dangerous workplaces in America, and the Permian Basin of West Texas and southeastern New Mexico is no different. Last week, two oilfield workers were killed in the span of two days in Eddy County, New Mexico. Unfortunately, that was only the second-deadliest week for Eddy County oilfields this year-three were killed in the first week of May.

On July 30, Fabian Martinez, 21, was in a pit cutting a pipe along with three others in an oilfield south of Artesia, NM, when the pipeline exploded. Deadly hydrogen sulfide gas was immediately released into the air. Martinez's three companions were able to escape, but Martinez himself was trapped in the put by the pipe. Unable to escape, he succumbed to the fumes and died.

The next morning, on July 31, trucker William Welchhance, 47, of Bowie, Texas was unloading pipe in the Mewborne oil field in Carlsbad, NM. A forklift operator was attempting to unload the pipe from the trailer while Welchhance was unstrapping it. The pipe fell off the trailer, landing on and crushing Welchhance.

The Permian Basin boom has brought a lot of jobs to West Texas, but last week's deaths show how hazardous those jobs can be. Between 2007 and 2011, an average of 39 workers per year died on Texas oilfields, and this number does not include traffic accidents not investigated by Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). It is imperative that oil businesses do everything they can to reduce this danger.

If you or someone you know has been seriously injured or killed in an oilfield accident, contact the attorneys at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto, and Friend by calling 713-222-7211 or 1-800-870-9584.

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