Worker Fatally Crushed on Oil Rig, Firm Fined $132,300

OSHA's Baton Rouge Area Office began its inspection March 10 following a report that an employee was fatally injured when a land-based portable rig, which was mounted on a barge, tipped over and crushed the employee to death.

OSHA has cited New Iberia, La.-based Estis Well Service LLC for one willful and eight serious safety violations following the death of a worker at Rig No. 23 located near Bayou Sorrel. Proposed penalties total $132,300.

"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 an employee was fatally injured when a land-based portable rig, which was mounted on a barge, tipped over and crushed the employee to death. The rig was being used to conduct remedial operations on an oil well to increase production.

The willful violation was for failing to ensure employees were protected from falls while working on an elevated drill floor by providing rails or personal fall arrest systems.

The serious violations include 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 derrickhand 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.

Estis Well Service, which employs about 44 workers, has operations in Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi.

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