The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a $65,000 fine against Dallas-based Ensign United States Drilling for two repeat safety violations after the company failed to address deficiencies that were originally found during a 2011 inspection. The violations stemmed from damage to the so-called "Geronimo line," a zip line that is supposed to allow oil well workers to quickly evacuate in case of an emergency. The line was knotted and blocked by a rack of pipes.
"Ensign United States Drilling failed to abate previous violations while continuing to expose its workers to oilfield injuries or possibly death from hazards that could be easily corrected," said OSHA's Houston North area director, David Doucet. "This obvious disregard for their workers' safety and health is unacceptable and will not be tolerated."
In October 2013, OSHA launched a regional emphasis program for oil and gas well safety in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas — OSHA's Region 6 —, where 162 workers died at drilling sites between 2007 and 2012. Under the program, OSHA investigated those fatalities and is promoting consultation and training among the region's oil companies. The Administration has also expanded its safety inspections, such as the one that led to this most recent fine.
Companies in Region 6 can undergo oilfield safety training programs provided by local certified trainers who can teach workers to identify and address potential dangers. Professional auditors can also carry out inspections to ensure that drilling sites meet OSHA regulations, allowing companies to repair hazards and avoid penalties.