News Release - August 8, 2005
PENN WEST PETROLEUM PLEADS GUILTY IN DEATH OF WORKER
Penn West Petroleum Ltd. has plead guilty to a charge under the provincial Occupational Health and Safety Act following an incident that caused the death of a worker. A total of $78,000 in fines and victim fine surcharges was levied by the court.
On June 25th, 2003, a 27-year-old worker was found dead within a battery (equipment building) located at a water injection oil well near Gull Lake. It is suspected the worker, who was alone at the time, was overcome by hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas.
Penn West was found guilty under section 3(a) of The Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993 of failing to ensure, insofar as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of the victim. The company was fined $60,000 and the court levied an additional $18,000 in victim fine surcharges.
"Hydrogen sulfide gas is a high-risk hazard frequently present in oil well operations. Occupational Health and Safety regulations require an employer to take all reasonable precautions to prevent workers' harmful exposure to any chemical substances, including H2S," Occupational Health and Safety Workplace Safety Manager Bob Ross said. "These convictions send the message that there are repercussions for employers and workers who fail to comply with OH&S regulations."
The division will conduct over 4,500 workplace inspections and provide training to over 4,000 employer and worker representatives on their safety responsibilities this year.
Maximum penalties for an offence that causes the death or serious injury of a worker are $300,000 and two years in jail.
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