OSHA Catches a Wolf

A fatal accident at a Texas oil and gas drillling site results in citations and a $71,000 fine.

A fatal accident in George West, Tex., at an oil and gas drilling site has resulted in citations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) against Grey Wolf Drilling Co. with penalties totaling $71,000.

The alleged violations were discovered during an OSHA investigation that began June 7, 2001, in response to a fatality that occurred when an employee lost his balance and fell from a service platform, near the top of a derrick tower, about 85 feet to the floor of the drilling rig.

Grey Wolf Drilling Co., headquartered in Houston, employs about 2,400 workers nationwide. About nine workers were employed at the George West site during the accident.

The company was cited with 11 alleged serious violations that include lack of personal protective equipment, improper fall protection, improper rigging of wire rope lines that run to the ground for an emergency exit and the distance between rungs, cleats or steps of fixed ladders exceeded 12 inches. A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

A citation was also issued for two repeat violations: failing to provide emergency showers for employees handling acids and corrosive materials, and exposing employees to bare wires by failing to provide strain relief on pulled electrical equipment. A repeat violation is one in which any standard, regulation, rule or order where, upon reinspection, a substantially similar violation is found.

Grey Wolf Drilling has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to either comply, request an informal conference with the Corpus Christi OSHA area director, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

edited by Sandy Smith

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