US Department of Labor Finds Company Failed To Protect Workers From Dangers of Inhalation

OSHA issued citations to oil and gas waste-management company Production Waste Solutions for failing to protect workers from hydrogen sulfide after an employee died.

Gas Warning
Source: InStock/Getty Images

Federal investigators found an oil and gas company employee suffered fatal exposure to hydrogen sulfide while working near a sump pit in September 2022.

The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued citations to Production Waste Solutions for six serious safety and health violations after the agency found the production waste facility exposed employees to serious chemical hazards. The company is about 175 miles east of El Paso.

At the time of the incident, the employee was skimming and suctioning out sludge water and oil byproducts from the pit. Specifically, OSHA cited the company for

  • Exposing employees to inhalation hazards
  • Not training employees on hazards associated with hydrogen sulfide exposure
  • Failing to provide a quick body drench or eye flush station for employees in the immediate work area where corrosive materials were present
  • Not performing a hazard assessment to determine if personal protective equipment was needed
  • Failing to protect employees from fall hazards of more than 4 ft
  • Not protecting employees from contacting energized circuits

OSHA assessed $39,064 in proposed penalties, which are set by federal statute.

“Hydrogen sulfide exists in oil and gas deposits, and it occurs naturally in sewers, manure pits, well water, and oil and gas wells, which is one of the reasons work in confined spaces is potentially dangerous,” explained OSHA Area Director Diego Alvarado in El Paso, Texas. “This terrible loss could have been prevented if Production Waste Solutions LLC had followed established safety procedures and provided federally required training and equipment.”