OSHA cites two Texas companies for violations after deaths from workplace accidents

Posted
by Charles Miller

Michael Glenn Tramell, 39, was fatally electrocuted in April at a Halcon Resources Corp. worksite located about a mile northwest of Electra, Texas in Wichita County. Mr. Trammel had been attempting to repair power to a pumping station which had been knocked out earlier that morning following severe storms.

OSHA investigated his death and cited Halcon Resources Corp. for two willful and seven serious safety violations. “This company failed to adequately train employees on the hazards of electrical repairs and maintenance on or near energized equipment,” said Jack Rector, OSHA’s area director in Fort Worth. “If the company had followed OSHA’s safety standards, it’s possible that this tragic accident could have been prevented.”

According to OSHA, Halcon Resources is a Houston-based oil and gas servicing company that employs 300 workers nationwide.

The willful violations found by OSHA include failing to provide training on safe work practices and to provide electrical protective equipment, such as gloves, for employees performing maintenance work. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

The serious violations include failing to provide specific lockout/tagout procedures and ensure that the energy sources of electrical equipment are locked out prior to performing maintenance, test electrical personal protective equipment, and ensure that only qualified personnel perform testing and maintenance on electrical equipment. 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.

Texas-based Symmetry Turf Installations cited after worker dies from heat stroke

In June, 39-year-old David Lopez was working as a forklift operator as part of a crew resurfacing the football practice field at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. When he started feeling disoriented, he was taken to the hospital with symptoms of heat stroke and later went into cardiac arrest. He died the following day.

Lopez was employed by Symmetry Turf of Mount Pleasant, Texas. Following an investigation of the fatal incident, OSHA cited Symmetry Turf Installations LLC of Mount Pleasant, Texas, with two serious safety violations for failing to protect employees working in excessive heat.

“This tragedy underscores the need for employers to take proactive steps to keep workers safe in extreme heat,” said John Hermanson, OSHA’s regional administrator in Dallas. “If this employer had been familiar with the symptoms of heat stroke, this unfortunate incident could have been avoided.”

OSHA cited the employer for failing to train workers to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat illness as well as on precautions to take when employees are working under such conditions. 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.

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Michael Heygood, James Craig Orr, Jr. and Eric Pearson were selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication, for the years 2003 through 2012.