OSHA Cites Texas Employer Following Fatality

March 8, 2005

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued citations and proposed penalties totaling $100,500 against Big Dog Drilling, Midland, Texas, following investigation of a worker’s electrocution at a drilling location.

Big Dog Drilling, a subsidiary of Acme Energy Services Inc., employs about 300 workers in the Midland area and specializes in oilfield drilling. OSHA began its investigation Sept. 2, 2004, in response to a fatal accident in which an employee was exposed to damaged energized cables. The agency has cited the company with one willful and five serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act.

“Power cables running from the generator plant to the supervisor’s trailer were not protected from vehicles running over the cables and damaging them,” said Richard Tapio OSHA area director in Lubbock. “The damaged cables became energized near a supervisor’s travel trailer, exposing an employee picking up trash around the trailer to electrical current. The investigation revealed that employees had been receiving shocks for several months.”

OSHA cited the company for a willful violation for failing to ensure that an electrical cable, supplying power to the supervisor’s trailer, was protected from damage. A willful citation is issued for violations committed with disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSH Act and regulations.

The alleged serious violations included failing to label circuit panel switches; failing to ensure that electrical installations had a permanent and continuous path to ground; not covering open exposed electrical wiring in circuit panels; not installing or using flexible cables in accordance with manufacturer and national electrical code requirements; and allowing exposed wiring on electrical outlets and switches on the rig location. A serious violation is issued when there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazardous condition about which the employer knew or should have known.

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s Lubbock area director, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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