OSHA Enforcement ActivityEnsign United States Drilling (S.W.) Inc. has been cited by OSHA for two repeat safety violations for exposing workers to possible hazards during oil well explosions. The repeat violations were cited for failing to correct deficiencies found during a 2011 investigation. Proposed penalties total $65,000.

The Geronimo Line

OSHA's Houston North Area Office initially conducted an oil and gas inspection in November 2011 and cited the employer for an obstruction in the path of the emergency escape line. Also known as the Geronimo Line, it is a zip line that runs from the top of the oil well to the ground and allows workers to quickly evacuate a well in emergency situations. The company was fined $13,000 for those violations.

"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 David Doucet, OSHA's area director in Houston North.

Escape line blocked, in knots

The repeat violations were cited for obstruction of and damage to the Geronimo Line, which was blocked by a rack of pipes and contained four knots that could stop workers' full slide to safety during a fire or explosion.

The inspection was part of OSHA's Regional Emphasis Program for the Upstream Oil and Gas Well Industry*. As part of the  program, OSHA investigated the deaths of 162 upstream oil and gas industry workers who died while performing duties, such as drilling, exploration and servicing, from 2007 to 2012 in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas and those worksites in New Mexico that are under federal jurisdiction. Because OSHA has no national programs dealing with this industry, this regional program was designed to address issues regarding fatalities and catastrophes in the aforementioned states.

Ensign United States Drilling is headquartered in Dallas, and it has an additional office in Denver.