Thursday, November 9, 2006
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: (617) 565-2074
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Union Drilling Inc. for six alleged willful, repeat and serious violations of safety standards following the May 12 collapse of a natural gas drilling rig in Dix, N.Y., that killed one worker and seriously injured three others. The Fort Worth, Texas-based company faces $138,500 in total fines.
OSHA's inspection found that guy wire anchors designed to support the 103-foot tall rig were not installed in correct locations to provide protection against a collapse. This exposed employees to being crushed by the rig. As a result, OSHA issued one willful citation to the company, with the maximum proposed fine of $70,000. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.
"The company knew the anchor must be installed according to industry standards and manufacturer's specifications yet did not do so," said Chris R. Adams, OSHA's area director in Syracuse. "The resulting death and serious injuries starkly illustrate the human cost incurred when proper procedures are not followed."
The inspection also determined that the rig's anchors were not pull-tested and its guy wires and clamps were not properly installed or equipped. In addition, a fire hazard was posed by the parking of a gasoline-powered vehicle within 100 feet of the well hole and a 55-foot fixed ladder lacked a required landing platform. These conditions resulted in three serious citations, carrying $21,000 in fines. OSHA issues a serious citation when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Finally, OSHA found that fall protection was not provided for an employee who worked on a derrick board 55 feet above the rig floor and employees were not trained in the proper operation of forklifts. Since the agency had previously cited Union Drilling for similar hazards at Colorado and Pennsylvania jobsites, the company was issued two repeat citations, carrying $47,500 in fines, for these conditions. OSHA issues a repeat citation when an employer has been cited for a substantially similar hazard and that citation has become final.
Union Drilling has15 business days from receipt of the citations to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or to contest the citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The investigation was conducted by OSHA's area office in Syracuse at (315) 451-0808.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
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