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DEP determines cause of workplace death in gas well accident

If a workplace injury or death occurs, the most basic assumption is that there was a lapse in the safety measures of a company. While this may not always be the case, it does not necessarily mean that a company should not take all precautions when it comes to workers' safety. This can be emphasized further by the recent findings of the Department of Environmental Protection on the workplace death of a 27-year-old man when a gas well fire occurred south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in February 2014.

According to the agency's findings, the fatal accident that occurred at a Chevron Plant in Greene County was possibly because of human error. There was also a defective assembly of a screw and nut that allowed the gas to seep from the well.

An official from the DEP further elaborated that in order for the gas not to leak, a bolt with a lock nut needed to be tightened to a particular level and torque. Otherwise, the pressure could have caused the lock to loosen or to subsequently come off.

The official added that there was supposed to be an experienced worker supervising a less-experienced employee to make sure that the gas did not escape the well. However, that was not the case in the accident.

The accident took the life of a 27-year-old male worker who was originally from Warren County. The worker moved to Morgantown with his pregnant fiancée before the accident occurred. Chevron is still studying the report issued by the DEP. However, the company has stated that it is committed to safety and is determined to avoid such accidents in the future.

In the event of a workplace fatal accident, especially in a situation when it was caused by a company or by another person's negligence, a Pennsylvania worker's family may wish to file a legal action. Besides a measure of justice, a lawsuit can also lead to compensation for the family of the worker.

Source: CBS Local Pittsburgh, "DEP Details Cause Of Fatal Greene Co. Gas Well Fire," Andy Sheehan, Aug. 6, 2014

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