Not an “accident”: Gary Keenen, 26, and Kelsey Bellah, 27 suffer fatal work-related injuries near Colgate, OK

Gary Keenen, 26, and Kelsey Bellah, 27 suffered fatal traumatic injuries on Friday, December 19 while working on a drilling rig two miles west of Colgate, OK. News reports provide some initial information on the workers’ deaths:

  • The explosion and fire occurred at a rig owned by Pablo Energy.
  • A representative of the State Fire Marshall’s office indicated that three other workers were injured. “Two were transported to trauma centers in critical condition, while another sustained burns to his hands.”

Current reporting does not indicate whether the deceased and injured victims worked for Pablo Energy or for another firm. OSHA’s on-line inspection data does not reveal any inspections under the name Pablo Energy.

Each year, dozens of workers in Oklahoma are fatally injured on-the-job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 86 work-related fatal injuries in Oklahoma during 2013 (preliminary data, most recent available.) Nationwide, at least 4,405 workers suffered fatal traumatic injuries in 2013. The AFL-CIO’s annual Death on the Job report notes:

  • Federal OSHA has 19 inspectors in Oklahoma to cover more than 89,000 workplaces.
  • The average penalty for a serious OSHA violation in Oklahoma is $1,872.

Federal OSHA has until mid-June 2015 to issue any citations and penalties related to the incident that stole the lives of Gary Keenen and Kelsey Bellah. It’s likely they’ll determine their deaths were preventable. It was no “accident.”