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Texas Drilling Company Faces Another Investigation After Fatality

HINTON, Okla. (AP) _ For the second time in three years, the federal government is investigating a Texas-based drilling company, this time after a fatality accident on a Caddo County oil rig.

A section of a Patterson-UTI Energy Inc. rig collapsed Thursday, killing Andrew Lee Scott, 22, of Weatherford. State medical examiner's office spokesman Robert Deaton said Scott died of blunt trauma to his lower extremities.

Jim Brown, the regional director for the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said OSHA had investigators Friday at the site of the accident.

OSHA issued Patterson-UTI $187,000 in penalties for safety violations after another rig worker, Ewell Dewayne Parham, 39, of Chickasha, died Aug. 11, 2004. Parham died when the basket in which he was riding fell 17 feet from a forklift.

OSHA said the company failed to remove a defective forklift from service, failed to provide proper training to operate a forklift and didn't retrain employees when workplace conditions changed. Brown said the company settled the citation for $91,000.

``We haven't really had contact with Patterson since the last fatality, save for a couple follow-up inspections,'' Brown said. ``Truth is, we haven't really had any problems with them.

``I think one thing to consider with the fatalities is the fact that Patterson is one of the larger operators in the southwest.''

The company reported in February that it had about 5,800 workers and almost 300 rigs in operation in seven states, including Oklahoma, and Canada.

Patterson-UTI Vice President Mark Cullifer didn't return phone messages left Friday by The Oklahoman.

Federal records show that five workers on Oklahoma rig sites have died since Oct. 1. Three of those were on a rig, including one on March 2, when 35-year-old John Samuel Rolan Jr. of Burns Flat died at a rig near Anadarko.
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