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$83K Fine Set in Rig Worker’s Death

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

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A Gulf Coast oilfield services contractor faces $83,300 in fines and nine federal safety citations in the death of an oil rig worker on a barge in March.

Skye Sonnier, 30, of New Iberia, LA, was killed in the accident in Bayou Sorrel, LA. Five nearby workers escaped harm in the accident.

 Estis Well Service

 Estis Well Service

Estis Well Service, based in New Iberia, LA, provides oilfield services.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited New Iberia-based Estis Well Service LLC for one willful and eight serious safety violations in the incident.

The company did not issue a comment or respond to a request for one.

‘Willfully Jeopardized Safety’

“This company willfully jeopardized the safety of its employees,” said Dorinda Folse, OSHA’s area director in Baton Rouge. “If the company had followed OSHA and industry standards, this tragic accident might have been avoided.”

OSHA’s Baton Rouge Area Office began its inspection March 10 following a report that Sonnier had been fatally injured when a land-based portable rig, which was mounted on a barge, tipped over and crushed him. The rig was being used to conduct remedial operations on an oil well to increase production.

The willful violation alleges that the company failed to provide rails or personal fall arrest systems to protect employees who were working on the elevated drill floor. A willful violation reflects “either an intentional disregard for” the law or “plain indifference to” employee safety and health.

Serious Violations

The serious violations include allegedly failing to:

• Use confined-space permits;

• Provide an emergency escape line or other form of emergency egress for employees working on the monkeyboard (a platform on which a derrick hand stands to handle the top end of a pipe as it is run into, or out of, the drill hole);

• Use industry-approved methods to anchor or brace a well rig;

• Ensure the use of personal protective equipment such as fire-retardant clothing; and

• Provide a competent, qualified person on the rig to administer first aid in the event of an emergency.

Serious violations reflect “substantial probability” of death or serious injury from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Estis Well Service, which employs about 44 workers, has operations in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi. The company’s services include crane barge construction and demolition services, tank battery removal and land/site restoration, work over, P&A, completion, shallow well drilling and salt water disposal well repair.

Proposed penalties total $83,300. The company has 15 business days from receipt of citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the citations.

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Contractors; Fall protection; Fatalities; Health and safety; OSHA; Petrochemical Plants; Tanks and vessels

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