Federal agency investigates 2 Abilene businesses after deaths

KTXS News Anchor George Levesque By George Levesque, Managing Editor/Anchor, glevesque@ktxs.com
POSTED: 4:30 PM Jun 25 2013   UPDATED: 2:55 PM Jun 26 2013
ABILENE, Texas -

Two Abilene businesses – Smith Pipe and Heartland Drilling – are being investigated by OSHA after two separate workplace deaths.

The U.S. Department of Labor is fining Smith Pipe $14,000 after Thomas Stewart died in a workplace accident on Jan. 7.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration say the fines came after a lengthy investigation of Smith Pipe where a number of serious violations were discovered.

This isn't the first time Smith Pipe has been investigated. Since 2005, the company has been investigated five times, including three probes that yielded fines for serious violations.

As recently as 2010, Smith Pipe paid almost $30,000 in fines.

Smith Pipe is contesting the new fines before an independent commission with OSHA.

Meanwhile, Abilene-based Heartland Drilling is being investigated after a man was killed in an oil rig collapse in Howard County last Wednesday.

Heartland drilling was also been investigated in the past. The company was fined tens of thousands of dollars after an April incident.