OSHA cites local drilling firm

ELLENBORO – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Ellenboro-based Hall Drilling LLC with two serious safety violations found at a Wolf Summit drill site, the organization said in a press release Monday.

OSHA’s inspection, part of the agency’s regional emphasis program for the oil and gas industry, followed a gas well fire in August 2012 that injured three workers.

Proposed penalties would total $12,600.

“The hazardous nature of oil and gas drilling operations requires employers to find and fix the hazards,” said Prentice Cline, director of OSHA’s Charleston Area Office. “In this case, ensuring the use of proper personal protective equipment, such as flame-resistant clothing, could have helped in protecting the workers.”

The alleged violations against Hall include failing to ensure the use of flame-retardant clothing from flash fires and burns and to ensure workers were not exposed to fire and gas explosions from uncontrolled gas flow at the well bore.

A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known, OSHA officials said.

Hall Drilling, which performs natural gas and oil well drilling, has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director in Charleston, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Messages left at Hall Drilling’s Ellenboro offices Monday for comment on this situation were not immediately returned.