OSHA Cites Company After Worker’s Death in Oklahoma

February 14, 2005

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued citations against Patterson-UTI Drilling Co. and proposed penalties totaling $187,000 for safety violations that led to a worker’s death.

Patterson-UTI Drilling employs about 5,800 workers and owns 361 land-based drilling rigs. Following an inspection that began Aug. 12, OSHA alleged that the Snyder, Texas-based oil and gas land drilling company committed three willful, one serious and two repeat violations. The agency was responding to a fatality that occurred the day before at the company’s oil rig site in Hinton, Okla.

The alleged willful violations include failing to secure the man basket to the forklift; to provide the proper training to operate a forklift, and to retrain employees when workplace conditions changed. A willful citation is issued by OSHA when an employer either knew that a condition constituted a violation or was aware that a hazardous condition existed and made no reasonable effort to correct it.

The alleged serious citations were issued for failure to remove a defective forklift from service which resulted in the death of one worker and serious injury to another. OSHA defines a serious violation as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Alleged repeat violations included failing to provide training for the safe use of powered industrial equipment and failing to provide certification for operating a forklift. A repeat violation is defined by OSHA as a violation that has been cited previously for a substantially similar condition.

In the past three years, 11 fatalities have reportedly occurred at Patterson-UTI Drilling’s various Texas, Oklahoma and Wyoming rig sites. OSHA has cited the company with 17 safety violations and proposed penalties totaling $725,900.

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the Oklahoma City area office, or contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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