They Died For You – Energy Warriors

Fatalities in the energy fields: 2000-2006

At least 89 people died on the job in the Interior West’s oil and gas industry from 2000 to 2006, in a variety of accidents, including 90-foot falls, massive explosions, poison gas inhalations and crushings by safety harnesses. Some states choose to have the federal government handle worker safety regulation, and some create state agencies to handle it; all the agencies tend to go by the nickname OSHA, after the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Some fines in the cases listed below are not directly related to fatalities; sometimes investigators notice unrelated safety violations when they visit workplaces where workers have died.

This list is almost certainly incomplete, due to loopholes in requirements for reporting fatalities.

The list below includes the victims’ names, age at time of death, date of the accident, company(s) involved, a description of the accident, and fines, if any. Names with hotlinks connect to .pdf’s of complete OSHA incident reports.


Ricky Erb, 19 11/27/06 Schneider Energy Services
Head injury, blown out of 5-foot hole when a reportedly 40-year-old pipeline Pending ruptured. He and rest of crew were using a cutting tool to open the pipeline, and they didn’t expect it to contain pressurized gas.

Jacob Farmer, 19 11/16/06 Leed Energy Services Inc.
Struck by falling pulley on a well-servicing rig. The victim’s father works in oil and gas. Pending

Phillip Smith, 44 11/6/06 Easy Street Crane Service
Crushed by truck. Pending

Joshua Arvidson, 24 1/25/06 Calfrac Well Services Ltd.
Engulfed by 40,000 pounds of sand in a storage bin. $27,825

Zac Mitchek, 42 11/25/05 Patterson-UTI Drilling Co.
Electrocuted while doing maintenance on a light plant for a drill rig. $11,900

Larry Hill, 42 11/7/05 Union Drilling Inc.
Fell 55 feet from platform on drill-rig derrick while handling hoisted drill pipes. OSHA said the company did not ensure that the worker was using proper fall-protection gear. $19,990

Randall Taylor, 62 8/14/04 Wolverine Drilling Inc.
Crushed by pulley system that collapsed from top of derrick while rig was trying to lift 270,000 pounds of drill pipe from a hole 8,400-feet deep. OSHA issued violations for unrelated problems. $4,560

Scott Nelson, 26 6/1/04 Union Drilling Inc.
Crushed when the top of a drill rig collapsed. OSHA estimated the rig was built in the 1970s and said a faulty weld failed under the strain of more than 300,000 pounds of drill pipe. $18,225

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