The safety hazards faced by workers in the oil industry across the country, including in California, are unlimited. Owners of oil field operations are obliged by law to provide safe work environments and comply with the safety regulations that are prescribed by the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Unfortunately, even if personal protection equipment is provided, some employers do not have procedures in place to ensure that workers use the equipment in the correct manner, leading to many workers being injured on the job — sometimes fatally.

Such disregard of employee safety may have lead to the death of a 29-year-old worker at a site in the vicinity of Bakersfield on a recent Friday morning. Emergency workers of the fire department were the first responders to arrive at the site. They reported that the worker fell from an oil pump jack that was 25 feet above ground level. It is not clear whether the worker fell from a lifting device or a pumping unit, and it appeared as if the fall protection harness he was wearing was not tethered.

A ground ambulance and medical helicopter also arrived at the scene, and when they arrived, an individual was performing CPR on the man per a fire department dispatcher’s instructions. Sadly, these efforts were in vain, and the worker succumbed to cardiac arrest at the scene. An investigation by Cal/OSHA is reportedly underway.

The surviving family members of the deceased worker will now have to face several financial stumbling blocks. Not only will they have to cope with the high costs of end-of-life arrangements, but they will no longer receive the income he provided. Fortunately, most California workers who are injured on the job are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, and in the event of a covered workers’ death, surviving dependents can pursue death benefits. Along with compensation for a funeral and burial, a financial package based on the deceased worker’s latest wage level will be included.

Source: The Bakersfield Californian, “Oil worker dies in fall from pumping unit“, Steven Mayer, July 17, 2015