The Department of Labor failed to show that a drilling contractor violated the general customs clause in the Occupational Safety and Health Act after five workers died in an explosion at a natural gas well in Oklahoma. v. Patterson-UTI Drilling Co. LLC The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission filed a citation against the drilling company after claiming that DOL failed to show the steps the company could have taken to reduce the danger to its workers.
The January 22, 2018 explosion occurred in Quinton, Oklahoma. Three of the workers killed were employed by Patterson UTI, which had been hired to remove a worn drill from the bottom of the well, which was owned by Red Mountain Energy.
Following the incident, an occupational safety and health inspector issued nine citations to the company with a total fine of $ 73,000.
Patterson-UTI appealed, and the company and DOL reached a pre-trial settlement on all but one referral ̵
Although the DOL established the existence of a recognized hazard which led to the deaths of the five workers, the Commission ruled that the Agency could not prove that Patterson-UTI's existing methods of reducing it were insufficient. or to show that more effective means of eliminating risk in the workplace were available. Workers at the site failed to take action that "could have prevented this disaster," DOL did not meet its burden of proof as to how to reduce it.
The court provided the citation for breach of the general customs clause. Three serious violations and two non-serious violations with a total fine of $ 65,000 were confirmed. Catalog