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09-901-PHI (osha 09-174)
Aug. 14, 2009
Contact: Joanna Hawkins
Phone: 215-861-5101

U.S. Department of Labor's OSHA cites Union Drilling Inc. for workplace safety and health hazards

BUCKHANNON, W.Va. -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Union Drilling Inc. for alleged workplace safety and health violations found at a New Salem, Pa., worksite. Penalties proposed total $54,600.

OSHA initiated its investigation on May 18 as part of its local emphasis program on oil and gas well operations. As a result of the investigation, the company has been cited with one repeat citation and a penalty of $28,100, one serious citation with a $26,500 penalty and one other-than-serious citation which carries no penalty.

The repeat citation contains five repeat violations including the company's failure to install a guardrail to prevent falls; provide eyewash and a deluge shower for emergencies when employees were working with a corrosive material; provide a fully charged, mounted fire extinguisher; and stored oxygen cylinders with combustible materials. OSHA issues a repeat violation when it finds a substantially similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order issued to the same employer within the previous three years.

The serious citation contains 10 serious violations including an improper hook/sling assembly; poor housekeeping; unsecured guardrails; no emergency action plan at the site; lack of safety glasses and impervious gloves; no potable water on site; defective slings; improper use and storage of oxygen and acetylene cylinders; and no hazard communication training for employees on site. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.

The other-than-serious citation contains two violations for failing to provide safety instruction signs and training first aid personnel.

"This company previously was cited by OSHA for the same violations at a different worksite," said Robert Szymanski, area director of OSHA's office in Pittsburgh, Pa. "Complete disregard of OSHA regulations and unnecessarily exposing workers to risky hazards will not be tolerated."

Union Drilling Inc. is an oil and gas well drilling company that employs 850 employees.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The investigation was conducted by OSHA's Pittsburgh Area Office; telephone: 412-395-4903.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, OSHA's role is to promote safe and healthful working conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, outreach and education. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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