OSHA begins investigating oil field fire

OSHA's investigation could take as long as six months.

SHARON SPRINGS, Kan. (KSNW) — A flash fire at a drilling site on Monday left seven workers injured. Tonight, Murfin Drilling tells KSN that both people who were hospitalized, initially in critical condition, have non-life threatening injuries.

The incident is now under investigation by OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Labor

“We look at the violation itself,” said Scott Allen, a spokesperson for OSHA, “not whether there are a specific number of employees or an employee injured or not.”

OSHA says it has cited Murfin Drilling, based in Wichita, seven times in the last decade.

“OSHA certainly believes that these types of incidences are preventable if all OSHA standards and operations are being followed,” said Allen.

Those citations include an incident in 2008 when a worker was killed when hit by material on a job site near Great Bend as well as other incidents in Kansas and Colorado.

In a 2011 case, Murfin was fined nearly $15,000 for several violations, including not preventing recognized hazards at one of their sites.

“We don’t expect any company to have OSHA violations,” said Allen. “They know the rules and they know the laws, the osha standards and regulations, and they should be following them. We don’t accept the fact that they have any violations.”

Murfin released a statement saying “there was a flash fire during a drill stem test that ignited in the mud pit…we expect all injured employees to make a full recovery.”

An official with OSHA was on site on Thursday interviewing workers, and their full investigation could take as long as six months.