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$450K fine proposed after blast badly injures 3 workers in North Dakota

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued 11 safety violations to KLX Wireline and proposed penalties exceeding $450,000.

An oil jack extracts crude from the Bakken oil field outside of Williston, N.D. Joshua Komer / Forum News Service
An oil jack extracts crude outside of Williston, North Dakota.
Joshua Komer / Forum News Service
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BISMARCK — The U.S. Department of Labor has cited an oil company after a drill site explosion severely injured three workers last year in western North Dakota.

On Nov. 4, one worker was permanently disabled and two others suffered serious injuries when a perforating gun detonated as the workers were conducting blasting operations on a well near Grassy Butte, about 30 miles south of Watford City.

An Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation determined KLX Energy Services, which operated as KLX Wireline LLC, "carelessly transported explosive materials and failed to take required precautions to protect workers and the public during blast operations," the Department of Labor said in a statement on Monday, May 9.

"These individuals suffered serious injuries simply for doing their job," OSHA Bismarck Area Director Scott Overson said in the statement. "KLX Wireline LLC’s willful failure to follow federal standards is unacceptable and a violation of their employees’ rights to a safe workplace."

OSHA issued 11 safety violations to KLX Wireline and proposed penalties of $453,982. The agency also issued a safety citation to Brigade Energy, a Colorado-based company, and proposed $14,502 in penalties for exposing workers to hazards, the Department of Labor said. Brigade Energy employed two of the workers who were seriously injured, and KLX Wireline employed the worker who was permanently disabled.

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OSHA's investigation found KLX Wireline allegedly failed to properly equip the vehicles that were transporting explosives and failed to ensure the vehicles were always attended, the Department of Labor said.

KLX Wireline has 15 business days from the receipt of citations to comply, request an informal conference with the area OSHA director or contest the citations.

Brigade Energy said in a statement to The Forum that the company is "working with OSHA to finalize their investigation," and declined to comment further about the citation.

"Though the injured person was not a member of our organization, his recovery is front of mind for us, and we wish him a full and fast recovery," Brigade Energy said.

KLX Energy Services' Houston office did not immediately respond Monday to The Forum's messages seeking comment on the citations.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Michelle Griffith, a Report for America corps member, at mgriffith@forumcomm.com.

Michelle (she/her, English speaker) is a Bismarck-based journalist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and Report for America, a national service organization that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered topics and communities.
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