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Wyoming officials act on August oil facility explosion

06 February 2012

Wyoming safety regulators have issued 19 citations for an explosion and fire that killed three workers at an oil well 40 miles northeast of Casper in August last year, and the Governor is proposing the creation of several new occupational safety posts in a bid to reduce future workplace fatalities.

Governor Matt Mead said he would create three new OSHA positions immediately
Governor Matt Mead said he would create three new OSHA positions immediately

Rates of workplace fatalities in Wyoming have ranked among the highest in the U.S. for the past decade, with many occuring in the state’s booming oil and gas industry.

State officials emphasize a collaborative approach with industry leaders to address the problem. The approach can mean more emphasis on voluntary, employer-requested safety inspections over surprise workplace visits by state inspectors, for instance.

The three workers were killed while installing pipe between two storage tanks and a device called a “heater treater” that is used to separate oil from water. The explosion triggered a fire at the remote oil well site operated by Tulsa-based Samson Resources that burned 10 acres before it was brought under control.

The citations are a result of Wyoming OSHA’s regular enforcement program.

Last week, Governor Matt Mead announced he was creating three new positions in the state Occupational Safety and Health Administration to help enforce workplace safety rules. He also said he would ask the Wyoming Legislature to fund five more state OSHA consultants.

Wyoming currently has only six employees to conduct workplace safety inspections or consultations for 23,000 employers, Mead said in a statement.

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