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Employer defense may have lowered OSHA fines

In the event that a California oil drilling company is accused of serious safety violations, an employer defense may help to minimize consequences. A drilling company was recently accused of 13 safety and health violations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Representatives of the company met with federal officials and were able to secure a reduced fine for the hazards identified at one of their drilling sites. The reduction in fines may be the result of an employer defense strategy.

The oil drilling site underwent an inspection and was given a $46,200 citation for potential hazards that were discovered by the agency. After the meeting, the fine was reduced to $32,340. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that an inspection was done after a claim was made against the drilling company for allowing a dangerous work environment.

OSHA inspectors accused the company of failure to provide handrails and tread on stairwells, and a lack of guards for dangerous machinery. First aid supplies and showers were not found to have been provided to employees that worked with corrosive or toxic compounds. Other hazards were discovered that could lead to electrical shock from improper wiring and outlets.

The agency felt that what was discovered could potentially lead to serious physical harm or even a fatality if an employee were to be in an accident. The drilling company agreed that safety should be a priority and expressed its desire to work with OSHA to address any health and safety concerns. A California business owner who feels that he or she has been excessively fined may seek legal assistance in building an employer defense in an attempt to lower fines and protect company assets.

Source: amarillo.com, "Borger driller agrees to pay reduced OSHA fine", Jim McBride, Nov. 25, 2014

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