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SAFETY / OSHA - 03/19/10

OSHA cites Chipco LLC in Zanesville, Ohio, following fatality at natural gas well site in Londonderry, Ohio

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Chipco LLC, a natural gas well salvage and capping business based in Zanesville, with two alleged willful and seven alleged serious violations of federal workplace safety standards following the death of a worker at a natural gas well site in Londonderry, Ohio.

The alleged willful violations cite the company's failure to provide appropriate respiratory protection, assess the worksite for potential respiratory hazards and provide adequate training. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.

Serious violations also allege failure to provide training, along with eye protection, a written respiratory protection program, a written hazard communication program, and material safety data sheets on hydrogen sulfide and other hazardous chemicals. A serious citation is issued 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.

"Far too many times, we encounter tragedies of this nature that very well might have been avoided if the employer would simply have followed OSHA safety and health standards," said Deborah Zubaty, OSHA's area director in Columbus, Ohio.

Chipco, in business since 1998, had not been inspected by OSHA previously.

Proposed penalties total $165,600. Chipco has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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