OSHA to investigate drilling rig collapse in North Dakota


OSHA investigators are looking into what caused an oil derrick to collapse as rig hands were attempting to move it last week.

A group of rig hands were lowering a Nabors oil rig in North Dakota in order to move it to another location when the tall derrick collapsed last week, according to a company spokesman.

Denny Smith told The Bismarck Tribune that no one was injured and no liquids were spilled during the incident. The Houston, Texas-based company is looking into what caused the incident near U.S. Highway 85. Smith expects repairs to be underway quickly.

The news source reports that officers from the county sheriff's department had to be deployed for traffic control because of increased congestion as onlookers stopped to take in the sight of the collapsed rig.

According to local ABC affiliate WDAY 6 News, U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials obtained a warrant to enter the site and begin its investigation last Thursday. OSHA spokesman Eric Brooks said that, while it doesn't happen often, federal law does allow companies to require that investigators obtain a warrant before letting them on the premises.

At this point, it is not known whether the accident was the result of human error, including potential safety violations, or mechanical failure. If the investigation does reveal safety regulation infractions, Nabors could face some hefty fines. However, the fact that no one was injured means any fines that may be levied against Nabors could have been a lot worse.

Online OSHA training that helps companies adhere to federal regulations and maintain safe working environments for all employees can make costly fines rare occurrences. Any business that operates heavy machinery or deals with flammable materials should make training a top priority.

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