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Lack of Machine Guarding Earns Texas Company OSHA Citations, Fines

The failure of Sage Well Services Inc., Encinal, Texas, to place guards on power transmission shafts and other machines prompted the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue citations and proposed fines of $86,100.

An oil and gas exploration company, Sage Well Services, which employs about 205 workers, was cited with one willful and 11 serious safety violations following an OSHA inspection that began March 14 in response to a complaint an employee was injured while lubricating an unguarded shaft.

Sage Well Services was cited for an alleged willful violation for failing to guard power transmission shafts and other machines. A willful violation is one in which there is evidence of an intentional violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act or plain indifference to its requirements.

The 11 alleged serious violations were for failing to properly install emergency escape lines, uncovered floor holes, lack of guardrails on platforms, damaged electrical cords, ungrounded portable equipment and failure to train employees properly. A serious violation involves a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

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

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