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Worker Perishes at Dow Site in TX

Thursday, July 9, 2015

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FREEPORT, TX--Federal authorities and officials at two companies are investigating the death of a worker in a tank at a Dow Chemical Co. construction site.

Michael Brooks, 46, was found unconscious Tuesday (July 7) in a “confined-space vessel” at the Dow Oyster Creek site, according to the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office.

Brooks had been working for Fluor Corp., an engineering and construction firm based in Irving, TX, according to The Facts, a local news outlet.

Investigations Underway

No other information about the incident was immediately available.

Fluor Corp.

A Fluor Corp. employee died Tuesday while working in a confined space at the Dow Oyster Creek site in Freeport, TX. Fluor has been doing engineering and construction work at the site since 2013.

A representative from the Houston office of the federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration confirmed Wednesday (July 8) that the agency was investigating the death. OSHA investigates all fatalities involving employees or contractors on a worksite.

An investigator with the sheriff’s office said Brooks' death could have resulted from several factors, including gas or chemicals inside the vessel, lack of oxygen, or unrelated medical condition.

Brooks’ body was taken to the Galveston County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy.

About the Project

Dow contracted with Fluor in 2013 to work on several Gulf Coast facilities, including the Oyster Creek site in Freeport, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The Oyster Creek project involves engineering and designing a Propylene Dehydrogenization (PDH) unit, including the power, utilities and other infrastructure; and installing a Light-Hydrocarbon (LHC-9) unit, according to Fluor.

Fluor Corp.

Fluor has been designing and constructing a PDH unit and LHC-9 unit at the Dow site as part of an expansion that aims to take advantage of the low cost of shale gas feedstock.

Dow’s expansion in Freeport is part of a multibillion-dollar plan that takes advantage of the low prices of shale gas feedstock, Fluor said.

Fluor officials did not respond Wednesday (July 8) to an email seeking more information about Brooks, his duties or his tenure at the company.

Company Sympathies

Both Dow and Fluor released statements on the incident via email.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and colleagues during this extremely difficult time. An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the incident," the Dow statement said.

Fluor spokesman Brett Turner said, "We are fully cooperating with all parties and ask that you keep the family, friends and colleagues in your thoughts and prayers during this extremely difficult time."

   

Tagged categories: Confined space; Dow Chemical Company; Fatalities; Health and safety; OSHA; Tanks and vessels

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (7/9/2015, 8:38 AM)

Why wasn't he wearing a 4-gas meter and have a hole watch?


Comment from M. Halliwell, (7/9/2015, 4:04 PM)

Nothing to say he wasn't yet, Tom. The only thing that has been said is that he died in a vessel. If a medical condition got him, he could have been in the vessel with a meter and hole watch and still perished. If it was conditions in the vessel that got him, then I would agree 100% :)


Comment from Thomas Van Hooser, (7/11/2015, 4:30 AM)

Same accident - different people!!!!


Comment from Chuck Pease, (7/13/2015, 6:18 PM)

Well put M Halliwell. Too little information at this point to draw conclusions. Fluor, or at least the sites they have run that I have been on run a pretty tight ship on the safety end.


Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (7/15/2015, 8:16 AM)

M, since the sheriff's office lists inert gas, chemicals and lack of oxygen first as possible causes - I'm going with a pretty good chance he didn't have a (working) meter. Since he was "found" - I'm going with pretty good chance he didn't have a hole watch (or the watch wandered off.) You really don't describe "finding" someone when you're already watching them.


Comment from M. Halliwell, (7/15/2015, 11:07 AM)

Tom, the first comment from the officer: "Right now we don't really know if it was natural or if it was something else" followed by "There are a lot of things it could be. We don't know if there was gas inside the pipe or not enough oxygen, or if he had a medical condition." At this point, it sounds like the officer was listing off any of the potential causes of death in a confined space, at least to me. Just because you have a hole watch, doesn't mean they are watching you all the time...maybe they wandered, maybe they looked away for a moment...heck, if this poor guy blew an aneurysm, it could have been 5 seconds and he was down. I'll still wait until there is more info before saying he was killed on the job, vs. died on the job. Of course, my condolences to Mr. Brooks' family. - Michael Halliwell.


Comment from peter gibson, (7/16/2015, 5:18 PM)

They should establish the facts of the case before writing. Too much speculation from our members. sometimes you never know. mostly guys mess up through stupidity.


Comment from Jerry Trevino, (7/24/2015, 2:14 PM)

I totally agree that not enough information is given decisively determine the cause of death. Biases flow out of peoples minds immediately and the comments reflect that. Even if most of the facts are know, it seems like IF the writer has an agenda to promote more regulations, training, unions, anti-corporate views, whatever, it is stated, then we get the trickle down morsels of facts filled with propaganda. My condolences to the Brooks family and coworkers.


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