Mixing Oil, Gas, Machinery and Men – A Recipe for Potential Tragedy

In a perfect world, companies would put the safety and security of their human resources and the environment over and above their corporate bottom lines.

But in case you haven’t guessed by now, we don’t live in a perfect world.

Take the Texas oil fields for instance. Yes, drilling for oil and gas is inherently dangerous. But something seems off kilter when fatal oil field accidents in Texas rose by 59 percent in the course of a single year (2011 to 2012) – and is now at a ten year high.

Of course there are existing rules and safety regulations in place, but the question is – are they sufficient and are they being followed?

Oil & Gas Industry Fights New OSHA Regulations – Calling Them Counterproductive and Unnecessary

The oil & gas Industries employ more than 450,000 workers. But even with an accident fatality rate seven times higher than the national average, it seems the big corporate players want nothing to do with increased scrutiny.

It seems at times these entities operate under a totally separate rule book from the rest of us. For example, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) guidelines mandate that manufacturing companies have extensive written procedures for preventing the accidental release of hazardous chemicals.

However, the oil & gas operations don’t comply – these requirements being waived specifically for them.

The large energy companies are basically saying they can police themselves – sort of like the foxes regulating the chicken coup. “Trust us,” they say (Does the BP Gulf Oil Spill ring a bell?)

 They also fall back on the cost issue – new regulations will be too expensive, especially for smaller oil and gas operations. But that rings a bit hollow when we consider that the US companies alone made $271 billion in profits for 2012, which doesn’t even include the many billions of dollars received in tax subsidies they enjoy.

However, it does seem there is always enough money for the millions of dollars in campaign contributions made to friendly congressmen and senators – so increased costs as a consideration against additional safety measures should be taken with a large grain of salt.

Taking the Next Steps in Oil & Gas Industry Safety

 First, let’s look at just one “micro-situation.” What safety measures can be implemented now, and at minimal cost to the oil & gas companies?

 Consider this – hand injuries make up nearly half of accidents in the oil and gas industry. The average cost per single injury is just under $22,000. (National Safety Council figures)

 These injuries can be vastly reduced by wearing high-tech gloves specific to the operation performed. Blunt force, pinching, crushing, penetration, abrasion and cut protection, acid resistance, high and low temperature resistant… special gloves can be suited for the particular use and environment the oil field workers will face.

 The gloves would certainly cost far less than the lost time and added expense a hand injury will produce. And even if not, how can one put a price tag on the loss of a hand or finger, or even the loss of full mobility? If it happens to you, you can’t put a price on it.

 Now for the macro vision. Although the oil & gas industries have extremely sophisticated technologies – some of the most advanced on the planet, those technologies are many times proprietary holdings – meaning each company closely guards their own secrets.

 There are as yet no industry-wide safety operating standards that apply to every oil and gas operation.

  •  The aviation industry has them…
  • The nuclear power plant industry has them…
  • Every automobile built or imported into the USA has them…

 What is stopping us from having the same uniform standards for such an integral part of our economy – oil & gas?

Here’s the Bottom Line

 Yes, the oil and gas industries are inherently dangerous – that does go with the territory. That’s why “roughnecks” do get paid top dollar for their work.

 But when accidents do happen – they can be spectacular disasters.

 The Deepwater Horizon catastrophe with almost five million barrels of oil decimating the Gulf of Mexico was and still is a monumental disaster to lives lost, the environment, the fish, animal and plant life, and the livelihoods of literally thousands of gulf residents.

 The response from both the government and the oil industry was lackluster at best, and a disgrace at worst. People died. Wildlife died. Economies were ruined. We as a people and a nation can not only do better – but must demand we do better.

 Our future depends on it.

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Why Are Jet Ski Accidents So Severe?

Jet Ski accidents don’t make the news often, but they can be some of the deadliest accidents possible. Personal watercraft (PWC) offer virtually zero protection in the event of a crash, and their extreme agility can put them in highly risky situations. At high-enough speeds, even water becomes a deadly object that can result in severe and permanent injuries. Unfortunately, PWC rental companies and PWC owners often fail to comply to even the most basic safety guidelines.

Personal watercrafts are small, nimble and easy to use, which makes for a dangerous combination in the wrong hands. The operators often get behind the throttle with little experience in water navigation, so they are often not equipped to gauge the movements of other vessels. Their size makes them hard to see and almost invisible if they capsize. Their quickness means other vessels and people often have little time to react if the operator of the PWC is not driving safely. For these reasons, most watercraft accidents are, at least in part, the fault of the operator. However, poor visibility, dangerous water or weather, mechanical failure, lack of safety equipment, inadequate operational instructions and other negligent vessel operators can also cause crashes.

Most Jet Ski accidents will result in injury, including severe brain, neck or spine damage. If a PWC is going fast enough, just being flung into the water can result in whiplash or concussion. This can stun a victim and leave them unable to swim or stay afloat. Burns and electrocution are also a concern, as PWC electronics may be exposed following a particularly violent wreck. It is important for a rider to take every precaution to avoid a collision.

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TEXAS ACCIDENTS IN THE NEWS: Day of July 22, 2014

Kierstin Eaddy, a 14-year-old girl from Flower Mound, Texas, died Sunday afternoon after her go-kart crashed at the Texas Motor Speedway. Kierstin was participating in an autocross meet sponsored by Sports Car Club of America when witnesses indicate the kart simply did not stop after crossing the finish line, and she smashed through a fence causing severe collision. Kierstin was transported by helicopter to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital where she later succumbed to her injuries. The Fort Worth Police Department is currently investigating whether this was simply an accident or some mechanical failure with the kart.

A fatal auto-pedestrian collision occurred over the weekend in southwest Houston. A 47-year-old man was attempting to cross the street at the 10100 block of Bissonnet Street on Saturday evening when a Dodge pickup struck the man, who was transported to Ben Taub General Hospital where he later died from his injuries. The local authorities are currently investigating the incident but have ruled out alcohol as a contributing factor.

In what has proven to be one of the deadliest summers on Texas waters ways, a 66-year-old man drowned on Sunday in Galveston, Texas. Aleksandar Momcilovic of Pearland was swimming with his family near the Galveston seawall when his family noticed something was not right. Although his family initially thought he was playing, Alexander motionless body proved it was a serious matter. His family immediately ran to his side, but it proved to be too late. The authorities are currently investigating the cause of the deadly incident.

Wawona Packing Company of Cutler, California announced a voluntary nationwide fruit recall after internal testing revealed the presence of Listeria, a potentially deadly pathogen. The recall is focusing on nectarines, plums, peaches and pluots sold at Costco and Trader Joe’s. Listeria can be particularly harmful to young children, the elderly and others with weakened immune systems. Listeria can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths. Some typical symptoms of Listeria are nausea, headaches, stiffness and abdominal pain.

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TEXAS ACCIDENTS IN THE NEWS: Day of July 21, 2014

A child passed away in an intersectional accident yesterday afternoon in North Harris County. According to local authorities, a pick-up traveling southbound on Sciaaca Road failed to yield the right of way at the intersection with Cypresswood Drive causing a severe collision with a vehicle approaching westbound. The child in the vehicle was transported via LifeFlight to Memorial Hermann Hospital where he/she later passed away from the injuries sustained. Three adults in the vehicle were transported by ambulance to local hospitals as well. The investigation is currently in process and authorities have not ruled out alcohol as a contributing factor in the cause of this incident.

Tragedy struck yesterday after an eight-year-old boy drowned in Lake Conroe. The child, who was visiting the Piney Shores Resort with his father and two brothers, was only a few feet away from this father when he suddenly slipped off the dock and into Lake Conroe. Despite the father immediately running and pulling his son out of the water, his valiant efforts were not enough. According to witnesses, the father started CPR, which was taken over by the Montgomery County Fire Department. The child was transported by LifeFlight to Memorial Hermann Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

A head-on collision between two motorcyclists near Mont Belvieu, Texas kills one and critically injures the other over the weekend. According to local authorities, a motorcyclist who was traveling eastbound on Barbers Hills Road near Danek Road attempted to pass a slower moving vehicle ahead. The motorcyclist entered the oncoming lanes of traffic and impacted a second motorcyclist head-on who was traveling eastbound. The first motorcyclist died at the scene from his injuries, while the second motorcyclist was transported by LifeFlight to Memorial Hermann Hospital.

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Prozac Side Effects Can Be Harmful In More Than One Way

Prozac side effects can be very harmful, not only to the individual taking the prescription, but also to the unborn child if a woman is pregnant.  This particular antipsychotic is called an SSRI, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. That is because the drug blocks a particular type of serotonin, something that can cause a myriad of adverse reactions in certain people. Though some people may experience a spectrum of mild reactions such as nausea and insomnia, there are many severe reactions that should be considered by any individual if they have taken the drug, especially if they were pregnant while taking it.

A 2006 study by the Department of Health and Human Services found that the rate of increase in suicidal tendencies could increase by upwards to 60% while on the drug. Other severe Prozac side effects arise from pregnant women taking the drug, whose children could develop many different types of developmental disorders, both neurological and motor related. It’s important to seek an experienced personal injury lawyer who understands medical negligence and malpractice as they will be well-equipped to gather the necessary documents and evidence from doctors and other experts.

Gathering documentation, as well as consulting with the medical professional who prescribed the medication is essential in building a winning personal claim. Many who think they have developed Prozac side effects have acted swiftly in obtaining the necessary records to help a personal injury lawyer in substantiating that the problems are specifically related to the drug in question. An experienced attorney who has been helping people with medical injury claims for years should have the experience and know-how that’s needed to attack these multi-conglomerate institutions. The severe reactions that can stem from the use of this drug are often chronic, meaning that they exist for the rest of the victim’s life.

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Texas Accidents in the News: Day of July 17, 2014

Porter Fire Department -- Leg Amputation

Ray Leyva being transported by the Porter Fire Department after a leg amputation at the scene of the incident. (Source: Montgomery County Police Reporter)

Ray Leyva, a 42-year-old man, lost a leg in a tree cutting accident in Porter, Texas. Mary Beleele hired Ray Leyva and Steve Solis to cut down an old oak tree in the backyard of her home located at Summers Hills Blvd and Butterfly Lane in Porter. Unfortunately for Leyva, the tree branch collapsed while he was up in the tree pinning his leg with a crushing force of more than 1,000 lbs. Neighbors called 911 and provided assistance in keeping him stable and supported in the tree so that he would not fall incurring further injury. The crushing force of the tree forced the emergency personal of the Porter Fire Department to amputate the limb at the scene prior to transporting him to the Memorial Hermann-Texas Trauma Institute.

A 27-year-old female died early yesterday morning when her Ford Explorer rolled over on the 10200 block of the North Loop East in Houston, TX. According to local authorities, the female driver attempted to merge from I-10 East onto the ramp of the 610 Loop at a high rate of speed losing control of her vehicle. She apparently over-corrected the turn striking the curb causing the white SUV to flip and causing her to be thrown from the vehicle. She died at the scene from her injuries.

A female allegedly under the influence of alcohol drove her Nissan Altima under an 18 wheeler which was making a U-turn at Dixie Farm Road near the Gulf Freeway in southeast Houston. The Nissan Altima wedged itself under the trailer ripping the roof off the vehicle off. The driver of the 18 wheeler injured himself while trying to help pull the woman out of her crushed vehicle.

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Summer’s Here – How Child-Safe Is Your Property?

Warm weather, sun, fun… playing outside, going for a dip in the family pool – everything that makes summer fun. But that could change in an instant, causing a lifetime of regrets, not to mention the possibility of some possibly devastating legal fees and civil judgments.

Backyard Pools:

All that crisp, cool water just inviting you in for a swim. Kids are drawn to pools like politicians to a fundraiser. But mix small children with an unsupervised pool area, and you get a powder keg of potential disaster. You may not realize it, but children as small as three can open up deadbolt locks. If the kids are inside, and all that stands between them and the outdoor pool is that lock – you’re playing with a disaster scenario.

No parent, guardian or babysitter can have their eyes on their charges every single instant. With that sixth sense small kids seem to possess about getting into things – something as simple as a keyed lock on both sides could prevent a very sorry situation from happening in the first place.

Such a system would have helped prevent 19 month old Shane Gurka from drowning in his family’s outdoor pool in Houston, Texas. Being babysat by their grandmother, Shane’s older siblings opened up the dead-bolted back door while grandma was in the kitchen. In just a few minutes, Shane had drowned.

Lawsuits began, civil compensation paid out, and a family was torn apart.

Just some extra basic precautions could have turned this around.

  • Have a working alarm when the door opens. (The burglar system’s door beep that was unfortunately shut off that morning would have alerted the grandmother when the door was opened.)
  • Wind chimes that will sound off if the door is opened is a very inexpensive backup plan.
  • A locked pool gate is likewise absolutely necessary – with the emphasis on locked whenever an adult is not present in the pool area.
  • A solar powered gate entry alarm is a cheap but very effective safety measure. If the pool gate is opened, the alarm sounds after a few seconds. The sun powers the rechargeable batteries for 24/7 performance.
  • Pool sensor systems are available that will let you know if someone has jumped into the water.

And please take this to heart – you can tell a small child not to do something until you are blue in the face. Then plan on them doing the exact thing that’s being forbidden.

BBQ’s:

Hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken… what doesn’t taste great cooked on an outdoor grill? But what cooks the food can just as easily burn a curious finger – especially if you are using the classic charcoal and lighter fluid way to start up those coals.

Fire has a way of attracting children. You would think a kid’s natural instincts would kick in and move them away from the heat. You’d be wrong. Here’s a true story from a verified source named Jack about an incident when he was growing up.

Jack was best friends with the little girl next door, Patty. One day they met outside as usual, and Patty’s father started up the fire in the grill. Going inside for a minute or two, he left his small daughter to look at the flames. Jack remembers it clearly. “Patty asked me what fire felt like. I said I didn’t know, but didn’t want to try finding out.” She was braver than me – and said she was going to see.

She put her finger in the flames. Screams and tears, a panicked father running out and taking her inside as Jack waited for Patty’s return. She eventually came back outside with her finger bandaged up. He asked her what fire felt like. Her answer? “It hurts.”

When grilling, keep the kids inside when the fire is started – or at least never leave them alone with the flames! This is also true after the feast is over. Those coals will stay hot for a long time, and the number of times a kid has tried to fish one out and burn leaves and such are legend – until one day their thumb and a live coal unexpectedly meet. And yes, as Patty said, “It hurts!”

As an aside, here is something you should never, ever try with charcoal. After lighting the fire, never squeeze more fluid onto the flames or the coals in an attempt to relight the briquettes. Flames can and do travel up the lighter stream – causing serious burns for the hapless outdoor chef.

Think it can’t happen to you? 18,000 people a year wind up in hospital emergency rooms across the USA with BBQ grill-related burns and accidents. (Consumer Product Safety Commission – 2009 Study)

 

Bicycles:

This is something that consistently never ceases to amaze. Parents who wouldn’t think of allowing their child near the bike without a helmet many times don’t seem to notice at all the actual condition of the bike itself!

  • Reflectors – They are there for a reason! Especially in lower lighting conditions, they alert auto drivers something else is on the road as well.
  • Tire Pressure – Just like with a car, low tire pressure can and does cause instability in steering, loss of control and accidents.
  • Balding Tires – You wouldn’t drive a car with bald tires, neither should your kids ride a bike with threadbare wheels. If they’re lucky, all they’ll get is a flat tire. If they’re not so lucky… well you do the math.
  • Wheel Spokes – Yes, they do come loose as well, affecting both the balance and the integrity of the wheel itself.
  • Chain integrity – Here’s one almost no one considers – the integrity of the bicycle chain. If the chain is too loose, it can come out of the sprockets while pedaling. (Jack, the person mentioned above found this out when as a child his bike chain came off while riding along the street. One curb and one tree later, his head sported a lump that lasted for weeks.) If the chain is too tight, it can pop its own rivets and fall off just the same.
  • Seats, Saddles and Handlebars – News flash… Nuts and bolts have a propensity for coming loose. It’s not a good thing when your kid turns right, and the seat he or she is sitting on suddenly makes the opposite choice.

With over 48,000 bicycle injuries reported each year (a fraction of the actual total number of suspected cases) a couple of minutes a week checking up on your child’s bike can keep them and you from being part of these statistics. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

As parents, it seems our kids are growing up in a world gone crazy. But with all the talk of terrorists, mad gunmen, stalkers and the like, your child is infinitely more liable to be injured or worse from common, everyday happenings.

We can’t protect them from everything, nor should we. Each must experience life, and life can be messy. But we can take the basic precautions any responsible parent should know about in order to lessen the more avoidable pitfalls our children will face.

Stay safe!

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Accident Victims Of A Defective Tire Looking For A Lawyer

Do you suspect you have suffered damages because of a defective tire? A lawyer can offer counsel to victims or survivors that want to explore legal repercussions in these matters. Let’s examine a few statistics involving automobile accidents.

Every year there are nearly 11 million automobile accidents in the United States. Nearly 400k of those accidents result in deaths within a year of the incident. Roughly 9 percent of accidents are caused by improperly maintained or faulty tires.

Vehicle maintenance, which includes proper tire care and inflation, is vital in keeping the vehicle running smoothly and getting good gas mileage. Luckily, professionals can often detect possible design imperfections during regularly scheduled maintenance. However, properly maintained vehicles can still be involved in accidents.

What are some of the possible incidents associated with flawed tires?

  • Blowouts or shredded tread
  • Skidding
  • Hydroplaning
  • Loss of control

While a vehicle swerving unexpectedly or running off the road is indeed scary, sometimes these incidents can cause injury, including fatalities. Regardless of the severity of the injury, a flawed product sold to the consumer is unacceptable.

Keep in mind that not all injuries have to be to a person. Damage can be to property as well. For instance, a car swerving off the road may damage fences, lawns, or crops. What if the uncontrolled vehicle harms cattle or household pets?

Do you think you may have been affected by a defective tire? A lawyer can look at the facts and help determine if there is cause for legal recourse.

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A Car Seat Injury Can Be Caused By A Number Of Reasons

A car seat injury can be one of the most frightening times for a parent and their child.  Protection is key with these devices, and when the product fails to protect the child, it can have devastating consequences.  Eleven million of these products have been recalled in the last decade from all of the major manufacturers.

Handle failure is one of the most common mishaps, where the handle breaks off while the child is being transported.  Other incidents that have occurred include five point harness issues, improper padding, and buckle and locking mechanism defects.

It is also important to note that over 80 percent of consumers are noted to have difficulty installing this type of product successfully.  The instructions provided by the manufacturer can often be confusing.   Instructions written in a simpler manner might help the parent install the car seat properly to avoid injury.

After a mishap of this nature, a parent may be wondering where to turn.  Many parents in similar circumstances have sought the services of a personal injury attorney to find out what can be done to remedy the situation.

During the first meeting with an attorney, it is important to come with all of the facts and any pertinent evidence.  Bring all documentation including medical reports, police reports, car seat documents, and even the device itself.  There are a number of lawsuits being filed against car seat manufacturers, and a knowledgeable attorney will be able to advise the parent on whether or not they have cause to file a claim.

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Construction Workers Are At Risk Of A Scaffold Injury

Anyone who works around a scaffold knows serious injury is a constant threat, as even a brief lapse in oversight can put workers at serious risk around these support structures. Although they are most common in the construction industry, anyone that works around the outside of a building will have to climb on top of one at some point. It may be surprising to hear that most serious accidents are caused by support structures close to the ground, but even one or two story falls can be catastrophic.

Project managers, engineers, or other qualified professionals overseeing a work site are required to inspect the scaffold daily to prevent injury. Many accidents result from simple defects in the support, like a weakened work platform or loose side brackets or fastening pins. With regular inspections, these problems can be caught and fixed before they put anyone at risk. Unfortunately, this important safety check is often ignored, which is something workers may not be aware of until an accident occurs.

Most supports also have to be paired with additional safety measures to protect people working on the scaffolding. Reducing injury risk with fall arrest systems or protective guardrails is not optional in most settings, as they are required by the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). Aerial lifts, float supports, catenary supports, boatswains’ chairs, ladder jack supports, and needle beam supports are among the designs that require a fall arrest system. The work platform must also be kept free of debris and any slick substance like oil, ice or snow.

Anyone harmed in an accident on or around a support structure should consider speaking to a personal injury lawyer. Negligence or inadequate inspections often cause these accidents, and a worker shouldn’t have to suffer because of a supervisor’s negligence.

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