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OSHA Cites Texas Drilling Firm in Fatal Rig Collapse

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited a Fort Worth, TX drilling firm for six alleged willful, repeat and serious violations of safety standards following the May 12 collapse of a natural gas drilling rig in Dix, NY, that killed one worker and seriously injured three others. Union Drilling Inc. faces $138,500 in total fines.

OSHA's inspection found that guy wire anchors designed to support the 103-foot tall rig were not installed in correct locations to provide protection against a collapse. This exposed employees to being crushed by the rig, the agency said. As a result, OSHA issued one willful citation to the company, with the maximum proposed fine of $70,000.

"The company knew the anchor must be installed according to industry standards and manufacturer's specifications yet did not do so," said Chris R. Adams, OSHA's area director in Syracuse, NY. "The resulting death and serious injuries starkly illustrate the human cost incurred when proper procedures are not followed."

The inspection also found that the rig's anchors were not pull-tested and its guy wires and clamps were not properly installed or equipped. In addition, a fire hazard was posed by the parking of a gasoline-powered vehicle within 100 feet of the well hole and a 55-foot fixed ladder lacked a required landing platform. These conditions resulted in three serious citations, carrying $21,000 in fines, OSHA said.

Finally, OSHA said that fall protection was not provided for an employee who worked on a derrick board 55 feet above the rig floor, and employees were not trained in the proper operation of forklifts. Since the agency had previously cited Union Drilling for similar hazards at Colorado and Pennsylvania job sites, the company was issued two repeat citations, carrying $47,500 in fines, for these conditions.

Union Drilling has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or to contest the citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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