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OSHA launches program to fight oilfield fatalities

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is taking a stand against oilfield fatalities. Last year alone, there were 40 oilfield fatalities in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, and OSHA wants to greatly reduce that grim statistic by launching a new safety program.

The safety program, known as the Stand-Down plan, encourages employers to take time out of the workday to provide safety training to on-site employees and managers. While the safety program has been praised, it has also been criticized because it is voluntary. That means oil companies decide on their own whether to participate.

So far, at least 14 oil companies based in the Permian Basin in western Texas have signed up for the program. OSHA's assistant regional director said participation in the program will run on the honor system, meaning that it will be up to the companies to put an honest effort into the program.

The assistant regional director said the program was not made mandatory because it would have had to have been a regulatory requirement, needing approval by Congress. He said that process is long and has no guarantees, so OSHA decided to keep the program as voluntary.

Companies that enroll in the program will be given a $300 credit to put towards an $800 OSHA Hazard Recognition course offered through the University of Texas at Arlington. However, these classes will only be offered to those in the Arlington area. Otherwise, the companies will be responsible for initiating their own safety training.

Hopefully, this program proves effective at reducing the number of oilfield fatalities in the state of Texas and elsewhere. Forty deaths in just one year is far too high, and shows just how dangerous oil drilling and pipeline jobs are.

Source: CBS 7, "New OSHA Program to Fight Rising Oilfield Deaths, But Will it Work?" Matt Rist, Feb. 4, 2013

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