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Stepped-up production means greater safety challenges for oil industry

January 3, 2013
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oil rigThe more than 1,500 oil and gas industry leaders, safety professionals, managers and workers who met last month in Dallas at the 2013 Oil & Gas Safety Conference explored the challenges that accompany increased production in oil and gas drilling and discussed best operating practices, safeguards and worker training strategies .

Attendees heard about the success of the National Service, Transmission, Exploration & Production Safety (STEPS) Network, an all-volunteer organization founded in 2003 in South Texas by the industry and OSHA to reduce injuries and fatalities. With a vision statement of “Incident-Free Operations,” STEPS promotes safety, health and environmental improvement in the exploration and production of oil and gas in US onshore operations and counts among its members operators and contractors in the oil and gas exploration, production and product transmission industry in partnership with OSHA, API, AESC, IADC, IPAA, other trade associations.

OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels addressed the conference, noting that the STEPS Network has expanded to include 17 independent networks nationwide. The Network's goal is to serve all producing regions of the United States and to eventually share their information internationally.

Dr. Michaels also discussed OSHA's upstream oil and gas safety workgroup; the agency's collaborative training efforts, including a new drilling safety course developed by Red Rocks Community College; and exposure to respirable crystalline silica during hydraulic fracturing.

The Oil and Gas Well Drilling, Servicing Safety and Health Topics page is OSHA's central location for resources on oil and gas well drilling safety and health. The page provides information on standards related to the industry and outlines recommended practices and guidelines. Five new "Fatal Facts" have also recently been added; these documents describe fatal incidents in the oil patch and provide information on practices that would have prevented them. Also new to the site are the Silica Exposure during Hydraulic Fracturing Info Sheet (PDF*) and a Spanish translation (PDF*) of the OSHA-NIOSH Hazard Alert on Hydraulic Fracturing.

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