OSHA investigates death of Rick Shaw at Enterprise Products

A federal and state investigation has begun into events leading up the explosion at Enterprise Products‘ Mont Belvieu gas plant that killed contract worker and father of two Rick Shaw, earlier this week. Since 2004 the Enterprise Products plant has paid thousands of dollars in fines for serious violations that include at least one other death.

The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) opened its investigation Tuesday, shortly after the fire began. Once OSHA‘s investigation is complete the details will be made public. Enterprise Products is conducting its own probe, and two State of Texas agencies will investigate the plant’s pipeline safety and also whether the plant violated air emission standards.

In 2005 a flash fire at the Mont Belvieu Enterprise plant burned and killed a worker who was overseeing a valve replacement. The plant has paid nearly $30,000 in fines since 2004 for a number of violations deemed serious by OSHA. In September two workers were hurt at BP’s Texas City refinery, the site where 15 workers were killed and 170 more were injured in a 2005 explosion. The workers were rushed to hospital with steam burns.

In 2005 Enterprise Products paid just over $12,000 in fines, a lesser amount than the $18,900 OSHA initially assessed against the company for the prior fatal incident in 2005. Based on Enterprise Products’ history at the Mont Belvieu plant, it certainly appears that the plant’s management were forewarned of safety issues. Unfortunately an OSHA investigation isn’t always enough: it sometimes takes a highly publicized lawsuit to take a company to task on their failures to keep workers safe, the BP Texas City refinery being a prime example of just that. This is particularly true in tragic circumstances such as the death of Mr. Rick Shaw, who leaves behind two daughters depending on him for love and financial support.

If you or a loved one have been injured at work, call Smith & Hassler‘s experienced personal injury attorneys for advice on your legal rights. Often after highly publicized incidents, particularly those resulting in serious injury or death to employees, company lawyers and insurers move fast to protect the company. Getting legal representation early by a firm such as Smith & Hassler that exclusively practices personal injury law protects the interests of injured workers or vulnerable, grieving families.

Smoke plume from Enterprise Products Mont Belvieu gas plant explosion that killed contract worker Rick Shaw can be seen for miles.

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