oil-worker-300.jpgAssistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels signed a two-year alliance this week with the National Service, Transmission, Exploration & Production Safety Network (STEPS) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) aimed at improving safety in the oil and gas exploration and production sectors.

As of 2011, the rapidly growing industry employed more than 450,000 workers, with a fatality rate seven times greater than the rate for all U.S. industries, according to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. Safety and health hazards for oil and gas workers include:

  • Vehicle Accidents
  • Struck-By/ Caught-In/ Caught-Between
  • Explosions and Fires
  • Falls
  • Confined Spaces
  • Chemical Exposures

Participants in the STEPS alliance will work closely with the National Occupational Research Agenda Oil and Gas Extraction Council, which identifies and implements strategies to improve the industry's workplace practices. Alliance members will also develop fact sheets, videos, trainings and other materials to help employers prevent injuries and fatalities in a rapidly growing industry.

The alliance program’s goals include:

Raising Awareness of OSHA’s Rulemaking and Enforcement Initiatives, such as by:

  • Sharing information on OSHA’s regulatory agenda and opportunities to participate in the rulemaking process.
  • Training workers on new and revised standards.
  • Developing worker information on new and revised standards.
  • Sharing information on National Emphasis Programs (NEPs).
  • Developing compliance assistance materials for other specifically targeted hazards/industries.
  • Participating in various forums and groups to discuss ways of improving workplace safety and health programs.
  • Encouraging worker participation in workplace safety and health.

Outreach and Communication, such as by:

  • Creating and sharing compliance assistance materials in English, Spanish, and other languages for workers and/or employers.
  • Conducting best practice seminars in support of OSHA’s enforcement initiatives.
  • Speaking or exhibiting at conferences and meetings.

Training and Education, such as by:

  • Developing effective worker training and education programs.
  • Arranging for the delivery of worker training.

Michaels formalized the alliance at the recent Oil & Gas Safety and Health Conference in Houston, which attracted more than 2,100 representatives of the oil and gas industry.