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OSHA: Three Oil Well Service Workers Killed in Rig Fire Lacked Flame-Retardant Clothing

Sept. 14, 2015
The oil well service workers killed in a west Texas rig fire died because of an ignition hazard and lack of flame-retardant clothing, OSHA finds.

An Upton County oil rig inferno killed family members Arturo Martinez Sr., Arturo Martinez Jr. and Rogelio Salgado in March 2015 as they worked to install a blowout preventer, which seals, controls and monitors a rig.

"This is a heartbreaking and senseless case," said Elizabeth Linda Routh, OSHA's area director in Lubbock. "Though the fines for the serious violations are the maximum amount allowed by law, no dollar amount can ease the loss felt by family and friends."

After the fire, OSHA opened an investigation, and cited employer Mason Well Service of Odessa, Tex., on Sept. 8 for one repeated and five serious workplace violations. The agency determined that the company failed to prevent contact between an ignition source and flammable liquids and gases, and did not ensure workers wore personal hydrogen sulfide monitors and flame-retardant clothing. Proposed fines total $50,400.

Parsley Energy in Midland owned the well and contracted Mason to install a blowout preventer.

An oil and gas well servicing company, Mason Well employs 120 workers. It has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with Routh or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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