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Steptoe & Johnson PLLC: OSHA: Coming to a Drilling Site Near You

By Lindsay M. Bouffard and David E. Dick

In an effort to reduce fatalities in the oil and gas industry, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) created an Oil and Gas Regional Emphasis Program. This program, implemented in 2012, applies to all worksites in Texas, among other states. Similar programs have been implemented in other regions.

One drilling company faces proposed penalties of $50,000 after OSHA cited it for numerous safety and health violations involving a variety of hazards.  OSHA inspected its Texas work site as part of this program. During the inspection, OSHA inspectors found workers at risk of potential injuries from preventable workplace hazards such as unsecured stairs and missing guardrails, electrical deficiencies, and poor housekeeping.

In light of the increased enforcement activities and the fines associated with non-compliance, we encourage employers in the energy industry to be prepared for non-voluntary interactions with inspectors.  It is essential for employers to have a plan in place before OSHA arrives. Such a plan should include the identification of a point person who will interact with the inspector when he or she arrives and instructions on how to handle requests for information.

Steptoe & Johnson’s labor and employment team can help by assisting in the development of a comprehensive plan to cover the workplace or jobsite, or by reviewing current plans to assure compliance with the Oil and Gas Regional Emphasis Program.  Additionally, we can help to ensure that a company’s policies and training support a safe environment that will withstand OSHA scrutiny.

For more information, please feel free to contact either of the attorneys listed in this alert.

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