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Region 6 News Release: 12-381-DAL
March 21, 2012
Contact: Elizabeth Todd Juan Rodriguez
Phone: 972-850-4710 972-850-4709


US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Mercer Well Service for repeat safety
violations at work site northwest of Pyote, Texas; proposed fines exceed $71,000

EL PASO, Texas – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Palestine-based Mercer Well Service for five repeat violations following an inspection at the company's Colt 34-212 Field, Well No. 3H, Rig No. 39 work site, located 15 miles northwest of Pyote. Proposed penalties total $71,500.

OSHA's El Paso Area Office began an inspection Nov. 16 as part of the agency's Oil and Gas Regional Emphasis Program, which is designed to prevent fatalities and other catastrophic events at oil drilling and gas wells. Inspectors found four workers exposed to possible injuries from unguarded platforms, a lack of fire protection and caught-between/struck-by hazards while trying to retrieve a piece of broken pipe in a well hole.

The violations include failing to provide guardrails for employees working on platforms 7 feet above the ground, provide standard railings on open sides of stairways, ensure that fixed stairs were uniform in rise height, provide required protection in case of fire and ensure that workers were protected from caught-between/struck-by hazards. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Similar violations were cited at locations in Texas in 2008 and 2009, and Pennsylvania in 2011.

"Repeated disregard of employee safety will not be tolerated," said Joann Figueroa, OSHA's area director in El Paso. "OSHA's standards must be followed to prevent injuries and accidents."

Mercer Well Service, which employs about 800 workers nationwide, has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's El Paso area director or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321- OSHA (6742) or the agency's El Paso office at 915-534-6251.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit


U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.