US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Estis Well Service for
safety violations following worker's death near Bayou Sorrel
BAYOU SORREL, La. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited New Iberia-based Estis Well Service LLC for one willful and eight serious safety violations following the death of a worker at Rig No. 23 located near Bayou Sorrel.
"This company willfully jeopardized the safety of its employees," said Dorinda Folse, OSHA's area director in Baton Rouge. "If the company had followed OSHA and industry standards, this tragic accident might have been avoided."
OSHA's Baton Rouge Area Office began its inspection March 10 following a report that an employee was fatally injured when a land-based portable rig, which was mounted on a barge, tipped over and crushed the employee to death. The rig was being used to conduct remedial operations on an oil well to increase production.
The willful violation was for failing to ensure employees were protected from falls while working on an elevated drill floor by providing rails or personal fall arrest systems. A willful violation exists when an employer has demonstrated either an intentional disregard for the requirements of the law or plain indifference to employee safety and health.
The serious violations include failing to utilize confined space permits; provide an emergency escape line or other form of emergency egress for employees working on the monkeyboard (a platform on which a derrickhand stands to handle the top end of a pipe as it is run into, or out of, the drill hole); utilize industry-approved methods to anchor or brace a well rig; ensure the use of personal protective equipment such as fire retardant clothing; and provide a competent, qualified person on the rig to administer first aid in the event of an emergency. 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.
Estis Well Service, which employs about 44 workers, has operations in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi. Proposed penalties total $83,300. The company has 15 business days from receipt of citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Baton Rouge, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards can call OSHA's Baton Rouge office at 225-298-5458. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).
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 http://www.osha.gov.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. 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.