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Region 6 News Release: 11-652-DAL
May 10, 2011
Contact: Elizabeth Todd Juan Rodriguez
Phone: 972-850-4710 972-850-4709


US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Patterson-UTI Drilling for
safety violations following fatality at work site near Cotulla, Texas

COTULLA, Texas – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Patterson-UTI Drilling Co. LLC for one repeat and two serious safety violations following the death of a worker at the company's site near Cotulla, Texas.

OSHA's Corpus Christi Area Office initiated an investigation Nov. 27, 2010, after an employee setting up a rig was struck and killed by a section of the track for the drive system on the drilling derrick. About 13 workers were present at the drilling site, located 8.2 miles west of Cotulla. Snyder, Texas-based Patterson-UTI Drilling employs about 400 workers, and conducts oil and gas well drilling and well servicing operations.

"The seriousness of these hazards is simply not an acceptable condition in the workplace," said Michael Rivera, OSHA's area director in Corpus Christi, Texas.

The alleged repeat violation is for failing to guard open-sided floors to prevent employees from falling. 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. In April 2007, OSHA cited this company with a similar violation resulting in penalties of $5,000.

Serious alleged violations include failing to inspect drive track guide lifting pins for signs of damage, secure the drive track to the lifting device and provide fall protection. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Proposed penalties total $53,900. The company has 15 business days from receipt of citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Corpus Christi or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Employers and employees with questions about workplace safety and health standards can call OSHA's Corpus Christi office at 361-888-3420 or the agency's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) to report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers.

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.