Convention NewsThe 4th-Biennial 2014 OSHA Oil & Gas Safety and Health Conference was held on December 2–3 at the Hilton Americas in Houston, Texas attracting over 2,200 participants. In parallel with the mission of both OSHA and the Oil and Gas industry, the purpose of this conference is to make worksites a safe and healthy place. This conference gathers key decision makers within management and executive positions to foster a better understanding of how industry and OSHA can work together to improve safety performance through cooperation, best practices, knowledge sharing, and relationship building.

The two-day conference provided a wide variety of educational breakout sessions designed to inform participants of the latest OSHA focus areas, industry techniques and trends, and new areas of research. It also featured an exhibitor area that serves as a means to provide participants with the proper tools to reach their organizational health and safety goals. This biennial conference was first held in 2008, and since then has successfully sold out and nearly tripled in attendance. The popularity and growth of the conference is credited to outstanding keynote speakers, informative and useful breakout sessions, professional exhibitors, and the opportunity to learn from and network with the country’s top safety experts in the industry.

In addition to the dynamic keynote speakers, the conference offered 102 unique breakout sessions hosted by various industry leaders, educators, researchers and managers focusing on many relevant and timely topics including Behavior Based Safety, Contractor Safety Management and Best Practices, Drilling and Well Control, Engineering Controls and Process Safety; Events and Mitigation, Health and Industrial Hygiene, Management, Leadership, and HSE Management Systems, Well Servicing and Completion, Education and Training Resources, Transportation and Driver Safety, OSHA Regulatory Compliance and other Target Topics.

Conference opening remarks began in the Lanier Grand Ballroom at the Hilton Americas hotel in Houston,Texas with David Bates, Area Director, OSHA Oklahoma City Area Office; Rick Ingram, BP Corporation; Dr. Lisa London, Assistant Vice President, Division for Enterprise Development, The University of Texas at Arlington; Dr. Vistasp Karbhari, President, The University of Texas at Arlington; Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health; and Dr. John Howard, Director, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Keynote speakers for day one included Keni Thomas, Tom DiTomasso, Reagan L. Terrill, and Deborah Hersman. Keni Thomas and Tom DiTomasso, LTC US Army Ret., Army Rangers involved in "Black Hawk Down" Mission drew from their experiences to deliver a truly inspirational message on safety, leadership and decision making with the emphasis that “Leadership is about people; and safety is about leadership.” Keni closed the talk in song, playing acoustic guitar and singing “Hold the Line.”

Reagan L. Terrill, Global OIMS and SSHE Advisor of ExxonMobil Fuels, Lubricants and Specialties Marketing Company, presented Distracted Driving: Minimizing Sources of Distraction and Addressing Third-Party Distraction.  As it is one of the leading causes of serious injury and fatality in the Oil and Gas industry, Terrill emphasized the goal of protecting others and ourselves from the dangers of distracted driving. 

Deborah A. P. Hersman, President & CEO of National Safety Council, discussed A Hidden Workplace Epidemic in which she described an often-overlooked cause of injury and fatality in worksites. Prescription painkiller use has increased 600% over the last two decades and 46 Americans are dying each day from unintentional overdoses of prescription pain relievers. Hersman affirmed that when we talk about leadership, sometimes it’s about doing things that are hard or unpopular; but if it’s about compliance that keeps people safe, it is more than worthwhile.

The day’s activities ended with Keni Thomas and band, Cornbread, taking to the stage in the exhibit hall for an evening of music and exhibitor hospitality.

On day 2, keynote speaker Warren Hubler, Vice President of HSE and Training for Helmrich & Payne International Drilling Co., talked about Making Safety Personal in the Oil and Gas Industry (Part 2) – an extension of his original presentation given at the 2013 National STEPS Network OSHA Stand-Down. Using personal stories, including Billy Jack McDaniel, a former oil field worker that miraculously survived an explosion that burned nearly 95% of his body, attendees were left breathless. Hubler emotionally urged participants to make a firm commitment to safety efforts within the Oil and Gas industry just as Billy Jack McDaniel has.  

In his presentation, Controlling Risk in a Dangerous World, keynote speaker Captain Jim Wetherbee, US Navy (Ret.) and former astronaut spoke on the importance of leadership and teamwork while drawing from his experiences from the Navy and NASA. Wetherbee stressed that leaders must be willing to learn and place the best interest of their team before themselves.

The Regional Administrator’s Award was presented by John Hermanson, Regional Administrator, Dallas Region of the U. S. Department of Labor and given to Kenny Jordan, Executive Director of the Association of Energy Service Companies. This award recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions in planning, establishing, administering, or enforcing worker protection programs in the oil and gas industry in Region VI. Teresea Madden, a founding force of the conference, was also given an award honoring her outstanding leadership and dedication to the conference advisory committee.

There were 11 recipients for the Linda Berryman scholarship award which was established to fund and support those who are just starting out in the safety field, or who wouldn’t otherwise have the ability to attend the conference. The scholarship honors the life and legacy of Linda Berryman and her commitment to protecting workers in the oil and gas industry as well as her on the first OSHA Oil & Gas Safety Conference in 2008.

Final featured speaker Dan Clark, CSP, CPAE, Hall of Fame Speaker and New York Times Best Selling Author closed the conference with his personal story. Clark charged participants to find it within themselves to be the change they know the Oil and Gas industry needs and to make it a priority to go above and beyond to do so.

The next biennial conference will be held November 29-30 in Houston, Texas in 2016. For more information about the conference, and the next date in 2014, please contact Conference & Event Management at (817) 272-2581, or visit the conference website at