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The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission upheld an administrative law judge’s decision to vacate a U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration citation issued against a North Dakota oil and gas well servicing company after an employee was injured in a fire.
In March 2015, an administrative law judge vacated a citation issued against Belfield, North Dakota-based Missouri Basin Well Service Inc. under the general duty clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act for exposing its employees to fire and explosion hazards, according to commission documents. The judge found that the Department of Labor failed to prove two elements of the alleged general duty clause violation: recognition of the hazard and the existence of a feasible and effective means to abate the hazard.
Commission Chair Heather MacDougall and Commissioner James Sullivan determined that the judge correctly found that the department failed to prove that the proposed abatement measure would materially reduce the risk of a fire. In failing to prove that a materially effective means existed to abate the hazard, the department failed to establish a general duty clause violation, according to the Thursday’s ruling in Secretary of Labor v. Missouri Basin Well Service Inc.
However, Commissioner Cynthia Attwood dissented in part after finding that the department had established a feasible and effective means of abatement, although she concurred with other elements of the decision.
An administrative law judge of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission upheld most citation items against a New Jersey masonry employer, but vacated one alleged violation of workplace safety standards.