Trucking Company Fined After Truck Driver Killed In Gas Well Explosion
Farmington, New Mexico – A New Mexico trucking company was fined more than $10,000 last week for “training and procedural failures” that led to the death of one of its truck drivers earlier this year.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued fines totaling $10,608 to Farmington-based Overright Trucking after 47-year-old truck driver Randy Yellowman was killed in an explosion at a gas well on Jan. 2.
Overright Trucking was founded in 1991 and operates 19 power units and employs 27 drivers according to data by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
On its website, the trucking company says it a water hauling company, mostly for oil and gas operations.
It is contracted by the Denver-based energy company, Catamount Energy Partners LLC.
According to Rusty Kelly, senior vice president for Catamount Energy, a preliminary investigation indicated Yellowman was alone at a gas well site about 6 miles west of Ignacio, Colorado in La Plata County when he perished.
Yellowman was transferring produced water – a byproduct of oil and gas extraction – from one of Catamount’s water tanks to his truck when the explosion occurred.
The fatal accident took place on lands owned by the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, and the results of the tribe’s investigation have not yet been made public.
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However, a separate investigation by OSHA found Overright Trucking employees were exposed to fire and/or explosive hazards when their training did not include measures they could take to protect themselves.
“The employer did not ensure that employees were equipped with gas monitoring and detecting equipment while engaged in the process of transferring production water from the site tank to the vacuum truck,” OSHA wrote in its findings.
Further, OSHA said Overright Trucking employees were not aware of the potential of explosions.
Additionally, OSHA found the pump truck was not grounded to dissipate the potential buildup of static electricity which led to Yellowman’s death.
OSHA also said that Overright Trucking did provide employees with safety guidelines for water that was a byproduct of crude oil production, but not natural gas.
“Feasible and acceptable means to correct these hazards would be to train water truck operators to ground and bond the trucks during the extraction process … and to monitor operators’ activities to ensure ground and bonding is being employed,” OSHA wrote.
OSHA found no citations were warranted for Catamount Energy.
On January 3 of this year, investigators with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission conducted a site inspection and found no critical violations on the well pad, according to a report by The Journal.
A review of the last inspection conducted at the well site in 2016 also found no major problems or critical violations, the report said.
OSHA is expected to release its full investigative report on the matter in the coming weeks.
(Featured image courtesy of Overright Trucking)