State and federal inspectors are investigating two unrelated workplace deaths within Alaska’s North Slope oil industry in recent months.
Hilcorp Alaska, a top Alaska oil producer that has been repeatedly penalized for operational violations, is named in each investigation. Both are labeled as accidents by workplace safety regulators, and in both cases, inspectors are also seeking information from other companies that may have had a role in the events.
Investigators have released limited details about the deaths.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is looking into the June 30 death of a Halliburton worker in a probe at the Northstar oil field, on a man-made island the Beaufort Sea.
The field is located in state and federal waters, and federal inspectors are reviewing that incident, state officials said.
The employee has not been named, and details of the accident have not been released.
“We are saddened to confirm the death of one of our employees at a work site on the North Slope in Alaska on June 30,” said Brad Leone, a spokesperson with Halliburton, an energy services company, in an email on Wednesday. “We express our deepest condolences to the family and will continue to support them and our local employees during this difficult time. We are investigating the incident and cooperating with authorities. Out of respect for our employee’s family, we will not be sharing any additional information with the media.”
The Northstar field is owned and operated by Hilcorp. Hilcorp, Halliburton and Northern Solutions, a machine shop providing services to oil companies, are named in the investigation, according to online reports from the federal agency.
Hilcorp referred requests for comment to Halliburton. Northern Solutions did not respond to a request for comment.
Jose Carnevali, a spokesman with the U.S. Department of Labor, declined to provide details about the incident.
“This investigation is ongoing, and no final determinations have been made,” Carnevali said in an email.
“All I can tell you at this time is that this is currently under investigation by federal OSHA,” he said. “As this is an open case, we cannot provide any further information at this moment.”
Separately, the Alaska Occupational Safety and Health section is probing the April 15 death of Colby Lord, 23, at a shop in Deadhorse, an industrial community supporting the Prudhoe Bay fields.
Lord died from head injuries after he fell on an icy surface while unloading pipe from a truck, state inspectors said in a notice Tuesday.
State officials have previously said the incident occurred at the Chosen Construction shop, as first reported by Northern Journal.
Until Tuesday, the state had not disclosed how the fatality occurred.
Lord slipped on ice “while carrying a piece of pipe over his shoulder while walking on an icy surface, causing a skull fracture upon impact,” the notice said.
“Emergency services were initiated within minutes of the incident by 911,” the statement said. “CPR was initiated soon after and the victim was transported to the nearest medical clinic where efforts to revive him failed.”
The notice did not name Lord or the companies being questioned. Adam Weinert, acting special assistant to the commissioner in the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, confirmed Lord was the victim.
Lord was employed by Worley Alaska, a construction and oilfield service company, but he was embedded at Hilcorp and took direction from the oil producer, Weinert said in an email.
Lord was a graduate of Colony High School in Palmer and worked as a mechanical engineer, according to his obituary.
Worley Alaska, Hilcorp Alaska and Chosen Construction have been named in the inspection, according to online reports listed at the federal agency, which approves the state of Alaska plan for occupational safety and health programs.
Hilcorp did not respond to a request for comment on the case involving Lord. Officials with Worley Alaska and Chosen could not immediately be reached for comment.
Weinert said in the case involving Lord’s death, “citations may or may not be issued at a later date.”
“At this time, there is no aspect of this investigation that is considered to be criminal,” he said.
The state’s notice about Lord’s death provides information designed to improve workplace safety.
Among other advice, the notice says employers should use mechanical methods such as a forklift to move materials when possible to avoid falls on icy surfaces. It says employers should ensure that workers are protected from falls through methods such as surface scarring, traction materials or traction devices.
Weinert declined to say whether Lord was wearing safety equipment such as ice grippers on shoes, or whether a mechanical lift could have been provided to transport the pipe.
“AKOSH cannot provide comment at this time due to the inspection(s) being open for this case,” Weinert said in the email.
The North Slope Police Department, which investigated the incident, has declined to release details. Family members for Lord have also declined to comment.
Hilcorp was previously fined $25,000, and one of its contractors fined $30,000, after a worker died in a 2018 accident at the Milne Point field.