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Oklahoma City Area Office Gets Results from Safety Stand Downs

Since September 2007, the Region VI Oklahoma City Area Office and the Mid-Continent Exploration & Production Safety Network (MCEPS) Alliance has been an active link between OSHA and the oil and gas industry. MCEPS, which comprises approximately 150 members, is part of the National STEPS (South Texas Exploration and Production Safety) Network--a national effort with OSHA, industry, and educators--that works to make the oil and gas industry safe. The MCEPS board meets in Oklahoma City on the third Thursday of each month to discuss safety, health, and environmental improvements and to listen to experts give presentations on relevant safety and health topics.

The Oklahoma City Area Office closely tracks the number of illnesses, injuries, and fatalities of oil and gas workers. Between FY 2008-2011, the number of fatal accidents in Oklahoma decreased from fourteen to six. Then, in mid-FY2012, it rose to nine fatalities and one catastrophe (i.e., an event causing three or more workers to be hospitalized). In response to this spike, David Bates, Director of the Oklahoma City Area Office, and compliance officers from the Austin and San Antonio Area Offices conducted an enforcement campaign. During two weeks in April 2012, they inspected more than 75 work sites throughout Oklahoma.

A sense of urgency and a need for a way to reduce incidents prevailed. Representatives at the OSHA Education Center at the University of Texas/Arlington (UT/A) donated more than four weeks of their time to compile and evaluate the data from the inspections. The members of the Alliance held frequent conference calls during which they discussed the data, how best to use it, and how to encourage members of the oil and gas industry to participate in an effort to reduce the number of incidents and accidents. They agreed to request that oil and gas exploration, production, and contracting companies in Oklahoma hold voluntary Safety Stand Downs. In the oil and gas industry, a Safety Stand Down is an event scheduled for any time of day during which work in the field at a particular work site stops, and a company official presents a training session. The period of time for this Safety Stand Down was the 30 days beginning June 21, 2012 and ending July 20, 2012. Each company selected a day on which to hold its Safety Stand Down activities.

Different members of the MCEPS Network Alliance advertised, promoted, and invited all Oklahoma exploration and production companies to the June 21 MCEPS meeting, which became the Kick Off Meeting for the Safety Stand Downs. Some members rented the space at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City; some provided refreshments at the meeting; others printed the publications that would be distributed; and still others burned more than 600 copies of a CD of David Bates' 15-minute slide presentation explaining the nine fatalities that occurred during 2012. Prior to the meeting, David Bates traveled to McAlester, Oklahoma, where on June 19, he addressed approximately 200 representatives of oil and gas companies at BP's quarterly Contractor Safety Meeting and promoted the upcoming Safety Stand Down by giving his 15-minute slide presentation.

On June 21, 2012, more than 500 representatives from oil and natural gas exploration, production, and contracting companies came to the Kick Off Meeting. An additional 30 individuals participated via Webinar. At the meeting, members of the OSHA and MCEPS Alliance requested that all Oklahoma exploration and production companies participate in the Safety Stand Down during the designated 30-day period to reduce the numbers injuries, illnesses, and deaths in oil and gas workplaces.

The OSHA Education Center at UT/A provided the training materials for the individual Safety Stand Downs. They included: a booklet that contained a paper copy and a CD of the David Bates' slide presentation, a copy of an Oil Patch Chaplin's slide presentation on the human toll of critical incidents and fatalities, the forms for reporting the results of the Safety Stand Down, and summaries of safety statistics and occupational incidents. The CD also included training materials from the International Association of Drilling Contractors and the Association of Energy Service Companies (both Alliance Program participants) to assist participating companies in carrying out the Safety Stand Down activities, which included employee training on the leading causes of injuries, illnesses, and fatalities in the industry. Of the fatalities that occurred during mid-2012, five were the result of struck-by incidents; two were crushed; one was electrocuted; one was a fall. The information provided at each Safety Safety Stand Down also addressed ways to assist the company in conducting drilling rig and servicing operation inspections at their jobsites. At each Safety Stand Down at an oil and gas work site, a company official conducted rig inspections, documented hazards, eliminated or made plans to eliminate hazards, and trained workers.

Approximately, 71 companies participated in the Safety Stand Down. They conducted more than 1,200 inspections and identified more than 2,500 hazards that they corrected voluntarily. They trained more than 9,800 workers.

There have been two oil and gas industry-related fatalities in Oklahoma since the voluntary Stand Down concluded in July 2012.

At the 2012 OSHA Oil and Gas Safety Conference in Dallas, Texas in December 4-5, David Bates presented a blueprint of how this Safety Stand Down was planned and conducted so that other STEPS Alliances can streamline their process for developing a Safety Stand Down. Additional oil and gas Safety Stand Downs are being planned in other Regions and States.

For more information, contact David Bates.

As of December 2012.

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Little Rock and Oklahoma City Area Offices Work with the Mexican Consulate to Train Workers at 10-Hour Construction Marathonn

In February 2011, the OSHA Region VI Little Rock, Arkansas and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Area Offices signed an Alliance with the Consulate of Mexico in Little Rock to provide Mexican Nationals in Arkansas and Oklahoma with information, guidance, and access to education and training resources; to promote workers’ rights in protecting their occupational health and safety, particularly with regards to reducing injuries and fatalities related to fall, electrical, struck-by, and caught in/-between hazards; and to help them understand the rights of workers and the responsibilities of employers under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

In May 2012, the Alliance, in conjunction with another Alliance-the Northwest Arkansas Worker Justice Center of Bentonville, Arkansas-and the Hispanic Contractors Association de Tejas (HCAT) sponsored a  10-hour Construction Outreach Training Program Marathon for English and Spanish speakers in Bentonville. This 1-day Training Program was designed for construction workers, foremen, job site superintendents, project managers, and anyone involved in the construction industry. Upon successful completion of the program, participants were awarded the OSHA 10-Hour Construction Outreach Card issued by the University of Texas at Arlington, an official OSHA Education Center.

The Mexican Consulate promoted the marathon to its Hispanic members and clients. According to David Preciado Juarez, Consulate General of the Mexican Consulate in Little Rock, "Training is a key component in ensuring the safety of Mexican Nationals at work sites in both Arkansas and Oklahoma." The local consulate office fully supported this educational opportunity.

The OSHA 10-Hour Construction Outreach Training Program is usually given over a 2-day period. During the marathon, each student stayed in his/her classroom while the 13 instructors rotated among classrooms on the campus. The eight English-speaking instructors taught the 33 English-speaking students, and the five Spanish-speaking instructors taught the 49 Spanish-speaking students. Volunteers from the Northwest Arkansas Community College (NWACC) and from HCAT helped during the marathon.  Topics covered included an introduction to OSHA; electrical hazards; scaffolding; stairways and ladders; hand tools, power tools, and material handling; fall protection; personal protective equipment; cranes and forklifts; excavations; and health hazards in construction.

Volunteers made this event happen. "This training opportunity for attendees from both Arkansas and Oklahoma is integral to ensuring the safety and knowledge base for employees for years to come," stated Carlos Reynolds, OSHA Director, Little Rock Area Office. The instructors volunteered their time and expertise. The event required about 11 months for planning and implementation. NWACC donated the time used by its staff to register students and print the Certificate with Continuing Education Units.   For more information about this success story, contact Mary Walter.

As of September 2012.

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Region VI Alliance with Permian Basin STEPS Network Reaches Out to Oil and Gas Industry

Since being signed in September 2008, the Alliance of OSHA's Region VI El Paso, Texas Area Office and Lubbock, Texas District Office with the Permian Basin Services, Transmission, Exploration and Production Safety (PB STEPS ) Network has worked to promote safe and healthful working conditions for workers in the oil and gas industry and in small businesses in the Permian Basin area. The Permian Basin is a geographic region within West Texas and South Eastern New Mexico. The Alliance helps employers address the risks of fire/explosion, falls, struck-by, caught-between , hydrogen sulfide (H2S), and other hazards unique to the oil and gas industry. The Alliance was renewed in 2010.

The PB STEPS Network was patterned after the STEPS network in South Texas. Other STEPS Networks include: the National STEPS Network; the North Texas Exploration and Production Safety Network Ft Worth; the South Texas STEPS Network Corpus Christi; the Four Corners Safety Network; the Greater Houston STEPS; and the Ark La Tex STEPS Network. In 2007, the first Permian Basin STEPS meetings were held, and an ad hoc committee was formed to build a safety network and develop a charter and by laws. An executive committee, which is comprised of officials elected by the ad hoc committee, selected the Midland Center in Midland, Texas for the meeting location.

Monthly public meetings, which began in January 2008, are free and open to all workers and employers. The executive committee encourages attendees to network and share information. Presenters discuss information pertaining to worker safety. Typically, a meeting includes presentations that focus on lessons learned, best practices, and OSHA updates on regulations. Most presentations are posted on the PB STEPS Web site for downloading and further use. Meetings are sponsored by organizations such as Halliburton, Total Safety, Cardiac Science/Airgas, and many others.

According to the President of the PB STEPS, Anthony Zacniewski of Bandera Drilling, a forum such as that provided by the PB STEPS Network is important to the industry because it enables its members to meet and share best practices and near misses, which helps to ensure that workers stay safe while working. Mr. Zacniewski also notes that PB STEPS enjoys the best attendance of all the networks in existence thus far.

One of the goals of PB STEPS is to work with federal, state, and local agencies. The Compliance Assistance Specialist from the OSHA Region VI Lubbock District Office tries to attend every meeting and provide an OSHA update. The Area Director, who is stationed in El Paso but responsible for the Lubbock Area Office, frequently attends the meetings. Representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration have given presentations as well the Texas Department of Public Safety, The Federal Bureau of Investigation, and National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

At the monthly meetings held during the first year of the Alliance, PB STEPS members gave presentations on a wide variety of topics. An average of 120 people representing 40 companies involved in the oil and gas industry attended each meeting. A sample of the topics discussed at the meetings includes: fleet safety; repetitive motion/ergonomics; encountering bees; normally occurring radioactive material; arc flash, narcotics; successful leadership; personal protective equipment (PPE); home fire safety; pumping unit safety; trenching and excavation; workers' compensation fraud; behavioral safety; identification theft; physical therapy; emergency evacuation; weather emergency preparedness; communication training; H1N1 influenza; and flame retardant clothing update. OSHA representatives provided several updates and presentations on fall protection, the OSHA Challenge program, roadmap to safety and health excellence, and employer payment of PPE.

Meetings held during the second year of the Alliance included presentations similar to those given during the first year plus others. For example, oilfield glove use, Hispanic Association of Safety Professionals, ethical hunting, safety attitudes, powered industrial trucks, bloodborne pathogens, pressure relief valves, workplace violence, oilfield theft awareness, and noise-induced hearing loss were all discussed along with updates on OSHA policies. An average of 120 people representing more than 50 companies involved in the oil and gas industry participated at each meeting. Also during the second year of the Alliance, PB STEPS began to take an active role in the biannual OSHA Oil and Gas Safety Conference .

From September 2010 to September 2011, members of the PB STEPS Alliance presented the following new or different topics at the monthly meetings: accident investigation, H2S, fire- resistant clothing and care, restraint of the fluid system, distracted driving, evacuation and landing zone for emergencies in remote locations, abrasive blasting, injury prevention, new drug testing methods, static electricity basics, working in hot environments, runaway diesel engines in flammable atmospheres, short-service employees, and musculoskeletal disorders. OSHA representatives presented updates and discussions on inspections. More than 1200 people attended meetings during this period; they represented more than 50 companies. In addition to the above topics, the PB STEPS Alliance offered two Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) sessions. Entitled Hydrogen Sulfide Safety and Fall Protection, each of them drew about 35 attendees at the first training and about 15 at the second.

In addition to the array of topics discussed, PB STEPS members encourage networking and civic responsibility among the attendees. Yearly food drives and other civic activities draw commitments from the participants.

As of June 2012.

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Austin Area Office Alliance with Workers Defense Project Supports Spanish-Speaking Construction Workers

Since being signed in July 2010, the Alliance between the OSHA Region VI Austin, Texas Area Office and the Workers Defense Project (Proyecto Defensa Laboral) has worked to enhance workplace safety for Spanish-speaking workers in the construction industry. Construction Safety and Health, Inc., an original signatory of the Alliance, did not participate in the Alliance because of schedule conflicts.

Said William Burke, Region VI Acting Regional Administrator, "OSHA welcomes the opportunity to join the Worker's Defense Project in emphasizing the awareness of hazardous working conditions in the construction industry. Participants in this Alliance work diligently toward achieving a safe and healthy workplace as well as providing information on the hazards commonly encountered in the construction industry." The Workers Defense Project (WDP) was founded in August 2002 by workers and volunteers at Casa Marianella, a shelter for Spanish-speaking men and women in Austin, to address the problem of unpaid wages for Austin's low-wage workers. WDP is part of a national movement of organizations seeking to provide these workers with the resources they need to eradicate hazardous and unsafe working conditions, to improve their living and working conditions, and to address workplace abuse.

During the first year of the Alliance, authorized WDP staff presented the OSHA 10-Hour Construction Outreach Training Program twice—once in April and once in June 2011—in Spanish to more than 100 workers. The attendees were Hispanic construction workers, whose work is primarily in residential or commercial construction in the Austin area. At the conclusion of the presentations, attendees asked questions, mostly about the inspection and complaint processes. They also collected pamphlets—in Spanish—on heat stress and a variety of construction-related topics.

In response to workers' interest, OSHA personnel presented three training sessions on how to make a complaint referral to OSHA, whistleblower rights, and worker rights to WDP members and volunteers. Approximately 30 members attended each session for a total of 90 WDP members trained.

Austin Area Office staff also reached out to WDP members by attending two of the "intake" nights that WDP holds every Tuesday night at its offices in Austin. The purpose of these events is to provide assistance to workers who have complaints involving alleged worker safety or nonpayment of wages. OSHA personnel took written information or actual complaints if a worker wished to file a complaint, made appropriate referrals to government agencies or attorneys who could assist workers, and provided additional information on OSHA laws and regulations. In addition, OSHA staff provided photographs of construction hazards for use in the training materials, conducted a training session on whistleblowers laws, and distributed the OSHA publications in Spanish.

On April 28, 2011, Austin Area Office Director Casey Perkins and Compliance Assistance Specialist (CAS) Joann Natarajan attended the workers Memorial Day Event at the Texas State Capital. The CAS also attended a Faith-in-Action event in February that focused on the problems immigrant workers experience with unsafe working conditions and wage theft.

OSHA and WDP plan to continue working together to assist Hispanic workers in understanding OSHA's construction laws, resulting in increased knowledge and expertise to the WDP staff, members, and volunteers.

As of January 2012

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Dallas, Texas Regional Office Alliance with Hispanic Contractors Association de Tejas Trains Workers at 10-Hour Construction Marathon

In April 2011, the OSHA Region VI Dallas, Texas Regional Office signed an Alliance with the Hispanic Contractors Association de Tejas (HCAT) to provide HCAT members and other Hispanic workers in the construction industry with information, guidance, and access to training resources that will help them (1) protect the health and safety of workers, particularly by reducing and preventing exposure to fall, electrical, struck-by, and caught in-between ("focus four") hazards and addressing immigrant worker issues; and (2) understand the rights of workers and the responsibilities of employers under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. In September 2011, the Alliance, in conjunction with the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), Richland College, and Compacion Foundation, sponsored a 10-hour Construction Outreach Training Program marathon for English and Spanish speakers in the Dallas area. This 1-day Training Program was designed for construction workers, foremen, job site superintendents, project managers, and anyone involved in the construction industry. Upon successful completion of the program, participants were given the OSHA 10-Hour Construction Outreach Card.

The OSHA 10-Hour Construction Outreach Training Program is usually given over a 2-day period. During the marathon, each student stayed in his/her classroom while the 25 instructors rotated among classrooms on the campus. The eight instructors who were English-speakers taught the 50 English-speaking students, and the 17 bilingual instructors taught the 164 Spanish speakers. Topics covered included an introduction to OSHA; electrical hazards; scaffolding; stairways and ladders; hand tools, power tools, and material handling; fall protection; personal protective equipment; cranes and forklifts; excavations; and health hazards in construction.

Planning for the event required about 170 hours over 6 months. Members of the Planning Committee came from the OSHA Training Institute Southwest Education Center, Dallas Regional Office, Dallas Area Office, TEEX, Compacion Foundation, HCAT, TAS Concrete, and Richland College.

Volunteers made this event happen. The 25 instructors volunteered their time and expertise. The use of the Richland College Campus and time used by the College staff to register all students and print Richland College Certificates with Continuing Education Units were donated by the College. Breakfast and lunch for all participants and instructors was donated by Compacion Foundation.

For more information about this success story, contact Young Wheeler.

As of March 2012.

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Workers Memorial Day Events in Houston, Texas

On April 27-28, 2011, the Region VI Houston, Texas, Area Offices and participants from several Alliances, Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) sites, OSHA Strategic Partnerships (OSP), unions, faith-based organizations, local educational institutions, and the Houston Fire Department (HFD) Pipes & Drums staged events to raise awareness of National Worker Memorial Day. Alliance Program participants included the Houston Area Safety Council and the Houston Business Roundtable; OSP participants included the Associated Builders and Contractors of Houston (ABC) and the Association of General Contractors of Houston (AGC).

The Houston Worker Memorial Day events reached approximately 532 people including family members of workers who died on the job or as a result of workplace injuries and illnesses. At each event, family members received commemorative purple ribbons and purple roses in honor of their loved ones.

Houston Fire Department Pipes and Drums at Worker Memorial Day event in Houston, Texas.

Houston Fire Department Pipes and Drums at Worker Memorial Day event in Houston, Texas.

The event also included a ceremony, guest speaker, reading of the names of workers who lost their lives in 2010, a moment of silence, and HFD Pipes & Drums.

The Houston North and Houston South Area Offices and USW Local 13-1 sponsored a Worker Memorial and Training day event that included a speech from a local Congressmen, a training seminar on process safety management, and an OSHA Update presentation. In addition, Congressman Al Green presented a Certificate of Special Recognition to USW Local 13-1 for the Worker Day Memorial event.

The First Annual Hispanic Worker Memorial Day event at Plaza Americas Mall featured guest speakers from AGC and from Houston Interfaith Worker Justice followed by a presentation, a moment of silence, and a reading of the names of Latino workers killed on the job.

A number of participating VPP sites including Chevron Energy Technology, MOTIVA, and the Exxon Beaumont plant held events. During their safety meetings, a representative from each site read the poem, "I Chose to Look the other Way" and requested a moment of silence in order to raise the awareness about the significance of the day as well as the importance of working safe daily.

For additional information about this event, contact Mark A. Hernandez.

As of October 2011.

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Alliance With Mexican Consulate Reaches Out to Mexican Immigrants in Arkansas and Oklahoma

On February 18, 2011, Area Directors from OSHA's Region VI Little Rock, Arkansas, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Area Offices and a representative from the Consulate of Mexico in Little Rock signed English and Spanish versions of an Alliance arrangement with the Consulate of Mexico in Little Rock. The objective of the Alliance is to establish a collaborative relationship to provide Mexican Nationals in Arkansas and Oklahoma with information, guidance, and access to safety and health education and training resources. Specifically, the Alliance focuses on reducing the number of injuries and fatalities in the construction, manufacturing, and poultry industries especially those related to falls and electrical, struck-by, and caught in between hazards. In addition, the Alliance focuses on helping Mexican immigrants understand their rights as workers and the responsibilities of employers. According to Andres Chao, Consul at the Mexican Consulate in Little Rock, "The main emphasis focuses on ensuring compliance with laws and regulations protecting Mexican workers as well as raising awareness about them."

On March 18-19, 2011, (Friday and Saturday) representatives of the Mexican Mobile Consulate of Little Rock, Arkansas, traveled to Oklahoma City to reach Mexican immigrants who do not have easy access to a Consulate. The purpose of the event was to provide a venue for Mexican immigrants to apply for and obtain Mexican passports and/or identification cards (matriculas) so they could legally live and work in the United States.

The approximately 600 people who came to the Mobile Consulate had many different kinds of jobs--some worked in restaurants as cooks, in the construction industry as roofers or painters, in manufacturing plants, in hotels as maids, and in landscaping companies. Jorge Delucca of the Oklahoma City Area Office staffed an OSHA exhibit and distributed OSHA pamphlets to workers and employers. Throughout the day, he gave mini-speeches in English and Spanish explaining the function of OSHA, worker rights, and compliance assistance. He commented, "Some [of the workers] had Wage and Hour complaints, and I provided them a Wage and Hour card with the phone number. Many took copies of the OSHA Spanish card that said ‘No one needs to be injured or killed for a wage...' with the toll free number. This card was a big success."

For more information, please contact David Bates.

As of May 2011.

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AESC Alliance Trains CSHOs in Texas

The OSHA Region VI Dallas Regional Office and the Association of Energy Service Companies (AESC) signed their second Alliance on June 23, 2010. Their previous Alliance ran from 2005 to 2009. The current Alliance works to provide AESC members and others with information, guidance, and access to training resources that will help them protect the health and safety of workers. Specifically, the Alliance focuses on the prevention of hand injuries, awareness of fire hazards, and exposure to air contaminants. In addition to oil well servicing contractors, AESC members include field crews, engineers, manufacturers, and oil and gas producers and operators. AESC has approximately 650 member companies who employ between 500,000 and 750,000 workers.

Through the Alliance, on November 5, 2010, AESC member company Energy Service Company of Bowie, Inc. (ESC) hosted a 5-hour training event in Bowie, Texas that focused on the safety and health procedures involved in oil and gas well servicing and how the industry complies with OSHA regulations. More than 20 OSHA representatives including Compliance Safety and Health Officers (CSHOs), Assistant Area Directors, solicitors, and other OSHA staff attended.

Mario Landeros, ESC Safety Director, conducted the first half of the training in a classroom; he provided a basic overview of oil and gas well servicing operations and associated safety and health hazards. He also distributed copies of sections from ESC's Job Safety Analysis Workbook that included job steps, hazards, and recommended safe practices.

The remainder of the training included a demonstration by a rig crew and some "hands-on" work experience for the OSHA staffers. At the training rig, participants had an up-close view of an oil and gas service rig in action. They watched a rig crew perform a number of standard operations; for example, they saw the rig crew pull rods out of the well hole and then run the pipe back into it. In addition, they could, if they wanted, have some "hands-on" work experience on a functioning well service rig.

When the rig crew's demonstration was finished, participants walked around the well service rig and posed questions during an informal Q & A session. The crew and OSHA staffers spread out around the rig and explored it and the support structure. They went onto the working floor of the rig to observe the blocks, elevators, power tongs, blowout preventer, and accumulator unit. Ronald Watkins, Assistant Area Director in the Dallas Area Office stated, "The hands-on training the CSHOs received today will be very beneficial. The CSHOs can now apply the principles they learned in the hopes of reducing the injuries and illnesses experienced by the workers in this industry."

Mr. Landeros stated "This orientation and training with OSHA was very beneficial. Not just for us, but also for every well servicing business in the area. I believe that if we try to show the CSHOs our industry and how we do our job, they will be better equipped to assist the well servicing industry and the oil and gas industry in becoming one of the safest industries to work in."

Participants observing the rig crew operating the service rig.

Participants observing the rig crew operating the service rig.

Participants exploring the rig from on top of the working floor and surrounding areas.

Participants exploring the rig from on top of the working floor and surrounding areas.

For more information, contact Josh Flesher.

As of March 2011

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2010 OSHA Oil & Gas Safety Conference

On November 30 – December 1, 2010, OSHA Region VI, with the University of Texas at Arlington (UT Arlington) OSHA Education Center, co-hosted the OSHA Oil & Gas Safety Conference in Dallas, Texas. The Conference, entitled "People, Equipment, and Compliance," was focused on the importance of the interactions among industry leaders, safety professionals, and OSHA representatives. The event served as a gathering place where leaders from the public and private sectors could share their ideas of how industry and OSHA can work together to improve safety and health in the workplace through cooperation, best practices, knowledge sharing, and relationship building.

Staff from the Regional Office in Dallas served on the Conference Planning Committee and worked to bring representatives from the oil and gas industry and all levels of government together to accomplish Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis' strategic goal of "Ensuring Workplaces are Safe and Healthy." In addition to OSHA staffers, representatives from two of Region VI's Alliances—the Service, Transmission, Exploration & Production (STEPS) Safety Network and the Association of Energy Service Companies (AESC) —were key partners on the Conference Planning Committee and devoted resources and time to developing the Conference.

During his keynote address, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels discussed the Agency's commitment to improving safety and health practices in the oil and gas industry. Dr. Michaels spoke of how OSHA is changing the culture at workplaces by encouraging workers' and employers' focus on prevention. He stressed that well trained and empowered workers are better prepared than managers to identify a workplace hazard before tragedy occurs. "Earlier this year OSHA announced a new regulatory effort that would require employers to implement an effective Injury and Illness Prevention Program tailored to hazards in their workplaces. Implementing [this and other] programs in every workplace represents a fundamental change in how employers think about worker safety and health. Instead of waiting for a government inspection or a workplace tragedy to address problems, employers would be required to develop a plan to find the safety and health hazards in their facilities that might injure or kill workers—and then fix those hazards." Dr. Michaels also discussed the importance of personal protective equipment such as flame resistant clothing for workers and overall operator responsibilities of worker safety and health on rigs. He concluded by stating, "Let's ‘sweat the small stuff' down to the last detail in every worksite, and let's be sure to involve workers in the process."

Dr. John Howard, Director of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), an Alliance Program participant, spoke about a research project in the United States that involves comparing fatalities in the oil and gas extraction industry to those in other industries. He emphasized the need for the continuous focus on the workplace safety of rigs regardless of where it is located (i.e., land-based or offshore) and who is the owner (i.e., contractor or small company) if we are to reduce fatalities in the oil and gas industry.

Dr. David Michaels, Dean Wingo, and Dr. John Howard at the OSHA Oil & Gas Safety Conference

Dr. David Michaels, Dean Wingo, and Dr. John Howard at the
OSHA Oil & Gas Safety Conference

Other keynote speakers included Janet Froetscher, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Safety Council, an Alliance Program participant, whose talk was entitled, "Cell Phone Use While Driving: Research, Risks & Strategies for Employers"; Olivia Owen, Vice President of Safety, Security, Health and Environment from ExxonMobil Corporation, who discussed Risk Management at ExxonMobil; and Dr. George Conway, Director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/NIOSH in the Alaska Pacific Regional Office whose topic was Drilling Down for Safety.

Industry leaders who chaired panels, gave presentations, and helped plan the Conference included representatives from BP Corporation, Chesapeake Energy, Conoco Phillips, Crosstex Energy Services, Devon Energy, EnCana Oil & Gas (USA), Exxon Mobil, International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC), ISNetworld, and Quicksilver Resources.

Conference attendees numbered about 1,200, almost double the number of attendees who attended the 2008 Conference. Seventy break-out sessions focused on topics including behavior-based safety, contractor safety, drilling safety, industry associations, management and leadership, regulatory compliance, risk management, training and workforce renewal, and well servicing. Feedback was positive. "… I hope that we continue to meet as a team of professionals [from] both private sector and OSHA to work together to provide a safer workplace for our most valuable asset--our employees"…"this Conference provided me the reaffirmation that I am leading our companies down the right path. I will leave this Conference energized to continue my battle to [help] our employees to be safe"… "in my 30 years of management experience, this is one of the best, [most] informative and educational Conferences that I have attended."

The OSHA Oil & Gas Safety Conference provides a forum for industry leaders to address safety and health issues. Dean Wingo, Assistant Regional Administrator for Region VI and Chairman of the 2010 Conference Planning Committee, stated "The OSHA Region VI Regional Office hopes to continue the momentum, excitement, and enthusiasm for providing ‘Good Jobs' for everyone in the oil and gas industry that was generated by this Conference." The next opportunity to attend the OSHA Oil & Gas Safety Conference will be in 2012. OSHA, UT Arlington, and the industry-based planning committee is already at work. For more information, contact Young Wheeler.

As of March 2011.

2010 OSHA Oil & Gas Safety Conference Planning Committee

2010 OSHA Oil & Gas Safety Conference Planning Committee

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Houston Area Offices, Mexican Consulate, and Justice and Equity in the Workplace Participate in Labor Rights Week August 30-September 3, 2010

On April 14, 2010, at the National Action Summit for Latino Worker Health and Safety held in Houston, Texas, representatives from the OSHA Region VI Houston North and Houston South Area Offices and the Consulate General of Mexico in Houston signed an Alliance to promote safety and health rights in the workplace for Mexican and other Spanish-speaking workers. Under this Alliance, the participants agreed to work together to share information and provide education and training related to the "focus four hazards" in the construction industry (falls, electrical, struck-by, and caught-between), employer responsibilities and worker rights under the OSH Act, and the complaint process.

Through the Alliance, representatives from the Houston North and South Area Offices and the Consular General Office of Mexico in Houston joined with representatives from Justice and Equality in the Workplace to participate in Semana Laboral (Labor Rights Week) to promote safety, health, and workplace rights information to Mexican workers in the Greater Houston area. Justice and Equality in the Workplace was formed in 2001 and is a collaborative effort among government agencies, consulates, non-profit groups, faith-based organizations, and the U.S. Department of Labor—all of whom work together to provide outreach to the Hispanic community in the Greater Houston area. Semana Laboral was held August 30 - September 3, 2010.

The outreach activities conducted during the week were many and varied, but all were conducted in Spanish and focused on educating Hispanic workers about their workplace rights. The phone bank at Univision answered 460 calls; the Mexican Consulate received 911 visitors and worked with 82 Consulate cases; the Mobile Consulate unit saw 352 workers in rural areas. Members of Justice and Equality in the Workplace gave 58 speeches; OSHA representatives gave 10 speeches on subjects such as employee rights, complaint filing procedures, focus four hazards. In addition OSHA representatives gave nine personal protective equipment (PPE) demonstrations and four media interviews. Media outreach included interviews with Univision, Telemundo, and two local newspapers. OSHA distributed 250 bags containing publications on worker rights, focus four hazards, sun/heat stress, fall prevention, and PPE. More than 2,000 people were reached directly at the Mexican Consulate and thousands more indirectly through the media efforts during the Semana Laboral.

Many agencies, organizations, and individuals worked to make the Week a success. In addition to many attorneys who specialize in labor issues, the list of volunteering groups includes the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor, Social Security Administration, Internal Revenue Service, AFL-CIO, Texas Office of Injured Employee Counsel, City of Conroe Hispanic Task Force, Texas Nursery Landscape Association, Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition, Houston Interfaith Worker Justice, TAS Concrete, TAS Concrete Services LLC., Houston Hispanic CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) Team, Houston Council on Occupational Safety and Health (COSH), Houston Fire Department, Univision, and Telemundo.

For more information, contact Mark Hernandez.

As of February 2011

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Texas Regional Office and International Association of Foundation Drilling Hold Training Seminar

In its Alliance agreement with the International Association of Foundation Drilling (ADSC): South Central Chapter signed in January 2009, the OSHA Region VI, Regional Office pledged to work with ADSC to provide members of the foundation drilling industry, including small businesses and non-English or limited English-speaking workers, with training resources designed to help them protect workers' health and safety. The focus of this Alliance is on safety and health issues including fall protection, silica, pinch-point, and equipment operation hazards.

On October 30, 2009, South Central Chapter of ADSC hosted a training seminar on drilled shaft installation and safety in Irving, Texas. Over 45 people attended the event including 25 OSHA Region VI Compliance Officers from the Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas and the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Area Office and the Dallas Regional Office. Also attending were ADSC contractor members and their invited suppliers.

Rick Marshall, ADSC Safety Committee Chairman, presented the first half of the seminar and provided a basic overview of the foundation drilling industry and associated safety and health hazards including site conditions, drilled shaft construction equipment and methods, and general safety practices. Mike Talmont, Assistant Area Director, Dallas Regional Office, presented the second half of the seminar, which covered OSHA's inspection policies and procedures including who and what is covered under OSHA, how inspection priorities are determined, and what to expect during an inspection.

In addition, members of the Alliance distributed a packet that contained the following safety guides and best work practices all of which were developed through the now concluded national Alliance between OSHA and ADSC. All of the items are linked to from the OSHA and ADSC Alliance Web page on the OSHA Web site and can be used as training resources.

  • "Anchored Earth Retention and Micropile Safety Tips for the Employer" and "Anchored Earth Retention and Micropile Safety Tips for the Employee" provide information to help prevent injuries and illnesses while installing anchored earth retentions and micropiles.
  • "Drilled Shaft Installation Safety Tips For the Employer" and "Drilled Shaft Installation Safety Tips for the Employee" provide information to help prevent injuries and illnesses in the drilled shaft foundation industry.
  • "Drilled Shaft Installation Safety" is a presentation designed to provide OSHA staff, drilled shaft contractors and their employees, geotechnical engineers, and general contractors with information about drilled shaft construction equipment and methods, general safety practices and recommendations on how to maintain a safe worksite.
  • "Working Safely During Installation of Anchored Earth Retention and Micropiles" identifies hazards associated with the installation of anchored earth retentions and micropiles and safe work practices to help reduce or eliminate the risk of injuries or illnesses.
  • "Working Safely During Installation of Drilled Shaft Foundations" identifies hazards associated with the installation of drilled shaft foundations and safe work practices to help reduce or eliminate the risk of injuries or illnesses.

According to Tom Baehr, President, ADSC South Central Chapter and ADSC Board Member, "This workshop is particularly relevant because of the fact that construction is identified as a high hazard industry by OSHA, and Texas has had the highest fatality rates in recent years."

On March 18, 2010, the Alliance presented a second training seminar-this one in Houston-to 12 attendees (five Compliance Officers from the Houston North Area Office and seven contractors).

For more information, contact Mike Talmont.

As of May 2010.

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Houston Area Offices and Houston Affirmative Action Contract Compliance Alliance Focuses Training on Top Four Construction Hazards

This Alliance between the Region VI Houston North and Houston South Area Offices and the City of Houston Mayor's Office of Affirmative Action Contract Compliance (MOAACC), which was signed in August 2008, focuses on providing training that will help protect workers' health and safety particularly in reducing and preventing exposure to construction hazards. The goals of MOAACC are to promote equal access, employment, and economic opportunity at every level of City government and to provide quality contract certification, compliance, business development, and training programs.

After the Alliance was signed, MOAACC used its quarterly newsletter, The Source: News for Small, Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises, to publicize the Alliance and request information to enable it to prepare training to address the needs of the different businesses.

As a result of the feedback, the Alliance presented a 2-hour training session called, "Introduction to OSHA and the Focused Four Hazards in Construction" (i.e., falls, electrical, struck-by, and caught-between). Jim Shelton, Compliance Assistance Specialist, Houston North, Texas Area Office presented the training three times at the City of Houston's Palm Center Business Technology Center. The training sessions are held in the evenings so that workers do not need to take time off from their jobs to attend.

Most of the 80 attendees at the three sessions represented businesses with fewer than 100 employees; some represented businesses with fewer than 25 employees; some were entrepreneurs. The represented businesses included construction, transportation/trucking, engineering, supply, janitorial, healthcare, and other industries. Most of the businesses do not have safety managers. Typically, the participants come to the training sessions with many questions, causing the sessions to run in excess of 2 hours. Participants take back to their workplaces copies of OSHA publications that the Alliance has provided.

Through the Alliance, representatives distributed copies of a slide presentation and resource list called "Hurricane Clean-up and Recovery Resources and Information" that contains a list of hyperlinks to hurricane preparation and disaster response documents. The information and documents were originally compiled on a CD developed in 2007 through an Alliance between the Houston Area Offices and the American Society of Safety Engineers.
During this Alliance, Shelton incorporated hyperlinks to the resources into the list that can be emailed, which made the distribution less expensive and more efficient. Copies of the slide presentation and resource list were sent to several hundred businesses in the Greater Houston area.

According to Velma Laws, Director, City of Houston Affirmative Action and Contract Compliance, "At any given time, City of Houston contractors are participating on hundreds of millions of dollars worth of projects to enhance the infrastructure, construct new facilities, or retrofit current structures to enhance energy efficiency. Our Alliance with OSHA enables us to help the contracting community develop, enhance, and validate vital safety initiatives."

Next steps for this Alliance include presenting more training sessions and staffing an Alliance Program exhibit booth at the Government Procurement Expo in March 2010 to reach out to minority and women-owned small businesses interested in contracting opportunities with government and construction contractors.

As of March 2010.

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Region VI Alliance with Northrop Grumman and Metals Trades Council Changes Safety Culture of Shipyard Employees

On May 30, 2007, the OSHA Region VI Baton Rouge, Louisiana Area Office; Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding's New Orleans (NGSB-NO) Operations; and the New Orleans Metals Trades Council (NOMTC) signed an Alliance to explore ways of changing the shipyard's safety culture and engaging all employees in the process. (NOMTC is the collective bargaining agent that represents many of Northrop Grumman's 5,200 employees.) The Alliance was designed to be a forum to empower the workforce and drive change.

According to Andrew Croom, Vice President of the Trades Council, who has worked at the New Orleans shipyard for 37 years, "In the old days, safety was hardly being enforced. Production came first." In 2002, Northrop Grumman launched an aggressive two-part campaign to reduce accidents. The "New Vision for Safety" training sessions focused on personal responsibility and accountability. The "STOP is Good Progress" program empowered employees to stop any observed or suspected unsafe operation or practice without fear of discipline or retribution. Employees were issued badges that depicted a "STOP" (traffic) sign above the words "is good progress" on the front and a Northrop Grumman statement empowering employees to use the badge to end unsafe processes. Next, Northrop Grumman and union management created four Environmental, Health and Safety Action Teams (EHSAT). The unions selected the 52 employees who comprised the teams, received the OSHA 10-hour General Industry Outreach Training Program, and subsequently were the "drivers" for improved safety performance. As an EHSAT member, Mr. Croom commented, "The EH&S staff showed me a lot of things that I could not see. The OSHA training was great, and I learned a lot that I can pass on to the younger people."

Despite these and other safety and health efforts, Northrop Grumman lost a valued shipbuilder in 2006 in a crane accident. As a consequence, one of the first efforts of the 2007 Alliance with OSHA and NOMTC was the "Why I Work Safely" (WIWS) campaign in which employees give personal testimonials about their reasons for working safely on the job. The campaign reinforced the concept of the employee as a responsible stakeholder in safety processes.

The WIWS campaign features a series of banners showing photographs of employees and their families; the banners are 6' square and are suspended around the shipyard. On the banners, the employees tell why safety is important not only to them but also to those they love and who love them. Many employees took advantage of this campaign to have personal photographs of their loved ones reproduced onto the flip side of their "STOP is Good Progress" safety badges, which serve as continuous and ready reminders of the necessity of safe job performance.

Northrop Grumman produced a "Why I Work Safely" video that begins with an introduction by Irwin Edenzon, Vice President and General Manager, Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding–Gulf Coast and shows employees expressing in Spanish and English the value of on-the-job safety to themselves and their loved ones. "Why I Work Safely" was filmed at several Northrop Grumman facilities and is scheduled to be shown to all Northrop Grumman employees.

Scott Cortez, a sheet-metal mechanic with 10 years' experience at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding states, "I never thought it [the WIWS campaign] would get this big. The reason I got involved is that I remember the way things were in the old days. Now there's a change happening, and you've got to get on board or get out of the way. You can see the change happening! That's why I love coming to the Alliance meetings and coming to work."

As part of the Alliance, Northrop Grumman has worked to promote and encourage its members' participation in OSHA's cooperative programs such as the Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). To attain VPP status, employers must demonstrate management commitment to the safety and health of their employees, and employees must actively support and be involved in the safety and health management system. In 2007, Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding-New Orleans managers assisted their colleagues at the satellite facility in Tallulah, Louisiana, as they prepared for and subsequently achieved VPP "STAR" certification. Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding-New Orleans is slated for VPP on-site evaluation in 2009.
For more information about this Alliance, contact Alexander Novas.

As of March 2009.

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Alliance Among OSHA Region VI Austin, Texas Area Office, Associated Builders and Contractors, South Texas Chapter and The Southwest Independent School District Provides Safety Training to Students Entering Construction Industry

On March 8, 2007, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Region VI Austin, Texas Area Office; the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) South Texas Chapter; and the Southwest Independent School District (SWISD) signed an Alliance to work to educate the 120 students in SWISD's Construction Career Academy (CCA or the Academy) about the importance of safety and health in the workplace. The Alliance focuses on the four major hazards in the construction industry-falls, electrical, struck-by and caught in/between hazards-and provides CCA students with information on many of the safety training resources available to them in the construction industry. The Alliance continues the work of the Alliance signed with the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) on April 22, 2004.

The Academy encourages its 120 students (90 in the Construction Academy and 30 distributed among the Agriculture, Welding and Automotive Repair Academies) to stay in school and improve their performances in their selected areas of interest by helping them adapt their education to deal with the situations they will encounter when they enter the workforce. According to Rupert Chavez, OSHA Region VI Assistant Area Director, San Antonio, Texas, District Office, "These young men and women are learning valuable life skills that will pay dividends for them and us (OSHA) for years to come. It is heartening to know that the Department of Labor, school system, trade groups and employers are investing time and resources in the future workers and leaders of America. This Alliance is a model for other companies and schools to follow."

Through the Alliance, representatives organize two training events each year at the Academy. At the Fall safety training event in 2006, students rotated through safety stations set up to address specific hazards designed around the Alliance's focus areas as they contribute to more than 90 percent of all workplace fatalities. Topics covered included work zone safety, personal fall arrest systems and hazards related to trenching, scaffolding and electrical work. In addition, training sessions and a demonstration of how to operate a truck-mounted crane were provided for the students.

The Spring safety training event on March 8, 2007, focused on different aspects of safety in the construction industry. At the event, representatives from ABC signed the new Alliance and gave presentations that included discussions on the tools and safety aspects of plumbing, estimating, sheet metal, fire protection, electrical work and risk management. They also provided details about the ABC Apprenticeship Programs, which are extensive training programs that require about 4 years to complete.

To meet the training goals of the Alliance, at CCA, OSHA representatives provide training sessions on a variety of topics including the rights of employees (for example, the right to a safe workplace and the right to make a complaint without incurring subsequent discrimination), overviews of OSHA and writing job safety analyses. Blake Matyear, an authorized OSHA trainer on the CCA staff, teaches the OSHA 10-Hour General Industry Outreach Training Program Course (OSHA 10-Hour course) as well as the OSHA-10 Hour and 30-Hour Construction Outreach Training Program Courses (OSHA 30-Hour course). Most students who complete the 3-year CCA program earn the OSHA 30-Hour card; most who are in the construction program for 1 year earn the OSHA 10-Hour card. Blake Matyear cites the following anecdote as an example of the program's success in equipping students for working in the construction industry.

Toward the end of our most recent school year, we had a guest speaker at the Academy, who happened to be a former student who works in the overhead concrete business in the Houston, Texas, area. He told the students that the first thing his company does for new hires is send them to the OSHA 10-Hour General Industry Outreach Training Program Course to earn an OSHA 10-Hour card. The students looked at him and said "Sir, we have that." Then he said that his company would offer to send them to the OSHA 30-Hour Construction Outreach Training Program Courses to earn an OSHA 30-Hour card. Some of the students said again, "Sir, we have that." He looked at me; I said, "Yes, sir, they do have that." He looked back at the students and said, "You're hired." OSHA and ACC training gives our students a big foot in the door. We know that in today's workplace there is a high demand for skilled workers and that the demand will continue to grow. We graduate students who will be safe employees in the construction industry and that makes our program absolutely dynamite.

To further the outreach and communication goals of the Alliance, SWISD was active during the YouthRules! Rally and Summer Job Fair that was held in April 2007 in San Antonio, Texas and sponsored by the US Department of Labor's OSHA and the Wage & Hour Division and the San Antonio Restaurant Association. To ensure that the event was well publicized, Rupert Chavez, contacted high schools in the San Antonia area; Joann Natarajan, Compliance Assistance Specialist in OSHA's Region VI Austin Area Office distributed flyers publicizing it to the CCA while she was at the school participating in the Spring safety training event; and SWISD representatives distributed flyers to their other high schools. At the Rally and Job Fair, which drew 300-400 students, Rupert Chavez and Joann Natarajan staffed the OSHA Alliance Program exhibit booth, provided information on teen worker safety and helped students fill out applications for Federal summer jobs available at www.usajobs.gov. About 20 local employers attended the event and interviewed students for summer jobs.

According to Judy Beloat, CCA Director, "The Alliance with OSHA has provided valuable hands-on experience and exposure to safety and health training for our students. The students are appreciative and proud of their OSHA experience and often share their knowledge with their families. While safety is not easily measured, we feel that the students who complete our program have a better than average chance of being safe in the workplace."

For more information about this Alliance, contact Joann Natarajan or Lyndol Miller at 512-374-0271.

As of June 2007.

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Alliance between OSHA Region VI and South Texas Exploration and Production Safety Network Aims for Incident Free Operations for Oil and Gas Workers

Since this story was posted in February 2007, the Alliance has been renewed (on October 15, 2008). Members of the Alliance have conducted safety and health training sessions at the monthly meetings and assisted in the planning of the 1st OSHA Oil & Gas Safety Conference, which was held on December 2nd and 3rd 2008, in Houston, Texas. In addition, the Alliance is addressing the issue of the redundant orientation programs that are required for contractors.

Typically, three training sessions were conducted at each monthly meeting; approximately 75 participants listened to topics including fatigue in the workplace, safety around wireline explosives, fall protection, suspension trauma, machine guarding, MRSA, diesel theft, the elements of an effective safety and health program.

The 1st OSHA Oil & Gas Safety Conference, which was the result of a joint effort of the Alliance with the OSHA Region VI Education Center at University of Texas/Arlington and industry experts, offered opportunities to network, to share best practices during the 36 breakout sessions, and to become current on OSHA regulations. OSHA Region VI Regional Administrator Dean McDaniel gave the keynote address to the lucky 785 oil and gas safety professionals who signed up early. (The conference sold out a month ahead.) The Alliance plans to offer the conference again in 2010 to a much larger audience.

The STEPS Network formed a workgroup, called SafeLand USA, which is a consortium of industry representatives engaged in or supporting the oil and gas exploration, production or transmission industry for the purpose of improving and monitoring health, safety and environmental orientation standards for the United States onshore contractor community. SafeLand USA has developed and is implementing a single orientation program for many of the major oil companies in order to reduce the redundancy of courses required for contractors. In December 2008, the pilot testing of the SafeLand USA orientation program was began in South Texas.

As of May 2009

Through an Alliance signed in October 2004, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Region VI's Regional Office and Corpus Christi, Texas, Area Office and the South Texas Exploration and Production Safety (STEPS) Network are working to reduce and prevent exposure to safety and health hazards in oil and gas exploration, production and product transmission. The organizations are also encouraging STEPS Network participants to join OSHA's cooperative programs, such as the Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). In addition, the Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Worker's Compensation On-site Consultation Program is helping to share compliance assistance information with the oil and gas industry's employers and employees.1

In October 2003, the fatality rate in the oil and gas industry was about 1 percent nationwide but about 30 percent in South Texas. To help reduce the fatality rate, John Giefer, Area Director, Corpus Christi, Texas Area Office, sent a letter oil and gas companies inviting them to meet with him to discuss safety and health hazards. As a result of the letter, 45 companies attended a meeting and agreed to form the STEPS Network2 to identify the obstacles to providing safe and healthy workplaces, discuss how to reduce fatalities and share information throughout the industry.

According to Rick Ingram, a STEPS past president and a contractor safety coach with BP America Production Company, "In support of its vision statement of Incident Free Operations, STEPS' members encourage smaller companies, that typically have fewer resources, to join the organization and increase their knowledge of safety and health. STEPS does not require any dues or fees for membership; every company is an equal member. Member companies like Halliburton and BJ Services, Shell and Exxon-Mobil, ConocoPhillips and BP sponsor and co-sponsor the monthly meetings."

On October 28, 2004, OSHA and STEPS Network signed the Alliance agreement that was the first of its kind signed by the agency involving oil and gas employers and contractors. The Alliance has been instrumental in arranging for hazard recognition training, speakers and exhibits at industry conferences, sharing best practices and raising awareness of safety and health programs in the oil and gas industry. For example, during the monthly STEPS Network meetings, OSHA representatives update the participants about safety and health programs and initiatives such as the Corpus Christi Area Office Fatality Reduction Initiative, which tracks fatality statistics and OSHA's Enhanced Enforcement Program, which focuses on individual companies. Since 2004, OSHA and oil and gas industry experts have presented safety and health information to more than 600 individuals from nearly 200 companies during the monthly meetings. The presenters have addressed a number of topics, including ergonomics, fall protection, machine guarding, recording injuries and illnesses, OSHA inspection procedures, West Nile Virus, bees, snakes and spiders, restraining energized lines, root cause analysis, job hazard analysis, noise in the oil and gas industry, load securement, legal liabilities and trench safety.

Information on the Alliance is included on the STEPS Network Web site (www.stepsnetwork.com) that is sponsored by an Alliance participant. The Web site also includes the Network's monthly meeting minutes and presentations and information on safety-related incidents, safety alerts and best practices.

In addition, the OSHA and STEPS Alliance has helped to provide employers with information on the agency's regulations and their obligations. For example, companies have addressed worksite-related equipment operation and maintenance, emergency response and personal protective equipment (PPE) issues and shared best practices on a case-by-case basis. As a result of the information sharing, work crew employees or service companies have stopped jobs, explaining that the tasks cannot be performed without proper planning, PPE or other equipment. In addition, contractors and employees have called OSHA representatives who have provided information on relevant OSHA rules and other applicable standards. The oil and gas industry representatives' discussions during the STEPS Network meetings about unsafe work practices and equipment have led to the implementation and use of new and more up-to-date programs and machinery in the field.

Through the OSHA and STEPS Alliance, the Network's members are sharing its successes with other parts of the country. In January 2007, STEPS Network representatives visited the OSHA Region VI, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Area Office and worked with James Brown, Area Director, and Heather Hartman, Compliance Assistance Specialist, to present the STEPS Network concepts to 170 oil and gas employers and contractors at a regional meeting. As a result, 26 meeting attendees volunteered to serve on a committee to explore the feasibility of setting up a similar network in Oklahoma. Members of the Alliance have also presented safety and health improvement talks at a number of national associations' meetings, including the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Association of Energy Servicing Contractors (AESC). API and AESC are also national Alliance Program participants.

In addition, the OSHA and STEPS Alliance's focus on OSHA's cooperative programs helped BP American Production Company-South Texas Operations Center achieve the first Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) Star status designation for a multi-field exploration and production site. The Conoco-Phillips South Texas Operation and BP America's South Louisiana Operation are currently working to achieve VPP status and are cooperating with one another in their efforts.

According to Mr. Giefer, "The success of the STEPS Network and the OSHA and STEPS Alliance has proven the merit of business and the government working together toward a common goal of improving employee safety and health in the oil and gas exploration industry. The STEPS Network and this Alliance have allowed employers to build relationships of shared cooperation and trust that have improved the understanding between all parties."

For more information about this Alliance and its activities, contact Marianne McGee, Compliance Assistance Specialist, Region VI, Corpus Christi, Texas Area Office, USDOL-OSHA.

As of February 2007; Updated May 2009.
 


1The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), Division of Worker's Compensation's On-site Consultation Program is a free service designed to help small private Texas employers understand and comply with OSHA standards without the assessment of fines or the issuance of citations for safety and health hazards.
2The STEPS Network is an all-volunteer organization designed to promote safety, health and environmental improvement in South Texas exploration and production operations. OSHA and other regulators and industry associations serve as advisors to its executive committee.

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Alliance for the Polyurethanes Industry and OSHA Region V and VI Form Alliances to Address Application of Polyurethane

Since this success story was posted on OSHA's Web site in December 2006, the Center for the Polyurethanes Industry (CPI) (formerly known as the Alliance for the Polyurethanes Industry) has developed through its Alliance with OSHA a new document about exposure control in the truck bed liner (TBL) industry. "Exposure Control Guidelines in the Truck Bed Liner Industry for Low Pressure System Applications" provides general information and explains precautions and practices associated with the safe handling of diisocyanates (MDI). Specifically, it discusses engineering controls (for example, adequate ventilation), personal protective equipment and general work practices common to the TBL industry. The CPI guidelines supplement the safe use and handling information in suppliers' material safety data sheets (MSDS) and provide helpful information and examples for MDI users.

According to Barbara Cummings Bayer MaterialScience LCC, and Chair of the CPI Truck Bed Liner Task Force, "…constructing a spray enclosure with sufficient ventilation can be challenging for this industry, especially for smaller businesses. We hope publication of this document will help address some of the commonly asked questions about exposure control in spray enclosures."

As of March 2007

Reducing and preventing employees' exposure to the diisocyanates (MDI) during the application of the polyurethane in the truck bed liners industry is the focus of two Alliances between the Alliance for the Polyurethane Industry (API) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Region V and Region VI Offices.

MDI is a component of polyurethane and special handling and care, including proper ventilation and environmental controls, is needed when spraying the polyurethane on the surface of truck beds. Polyurethane is applied much like paint or coatings. The liner protects the surface of the truck bed against scratches and scrapes, as well as the corrosion that can result over time due to this damage.

Through the Alliances, OSHA and API are developing print and electronic outreach materials, providing training and speaking and exhibiting at conferences and meetings to help polyurethane users, especially small truck bed lining businesses, address workplace safety and health issues including the:

  • Proper use and storage of MDI
  • Proper use, storage and maintenance of the equipment used to apply the polyurethane
  • Fit and evaluation of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as respirators
  • Design of ventilation booths

For example, both Alliances have published information to address polyurethane-related safety and health hazards that may be encountered in the truck bed liner industry. The Region V and API Alliance1, signed July 12, 2005, created a guide; Safety Considerations for the Application of Spray-On Truck Bed Liners TBL, that provides the polyurethane users with recommendations for engineering controls, PPE and work practices. The Alliance also developed a Model Respiratory Protection Program, which is designed to help protect employees from respiratory hazards and facilitate compliance with OSHA's Respiratory Protection Program Standard.


The OSHA Region VI and API Alliance2, signed February 28, 2006, published a brochure, Spray on Truck Bed Liner Applications Using MDI/PMDI; Seven Important Points. Developed for employers, the document includes information on how to recognize MDI-related hazards and reduce employees' exposure to MDI.

In addition, API launched a Truck Bed Liners Web site in September 2006 that contains information for the industry, including publications, events and statistical data. By October 2006, the Web site (www.spraytruckbedliner.com) averaged over 400 visits per month. For example, both Alliances have published information to address polyurethane-related safety and health hazards that may be encountered in the truck bed liner industry. The Region V and API Alliance1, signed July 12, 2005, created a guide; Safety Considerations for the Application of Spray-On Truck Bed Liners TBL, that provides the polyurethane users with recommendations for engineering controls, PPE and work practices. The Alliance also developed a Model Respiratory Protection Program, which is designed to help protect employees from respiratory hazards and facilitate compliance with OSHA's Respiratory Protection Program Standard.

The OSHA Region VI and API Alliance2, signed February 28, 2006, published a brochure, Spray on Truck Bed Liner Applications Using MDI/PMDI; Seven Important Points. Developed for employers, the document includes information on how to recognize MDI-related hazards and reduce employees' exposure to MDI.

In addition, API launched a Truck Bed Liners Web site in September 2006 that contains information for the industry, including publications, events and statistical data. By October 2006, the Web site (www.spraytruckbedliner.com) averaged over 400 visits per month.

The Alliances are also working to reach out to the truck bed liner industry's employers and employees and the public through the dissemination of information through conferences and training seminars. For example, API hosted an exhibit booth at the 2006 Specialty Equipment Market Association Show, October 31-November 3, 2006, in Las Vegas, Nevada that was attended by more than 100,000 specialty auto parts industry representatives. The exhibit promoted the Alliance-developed publications and raised awareness about the workplace safety and health issues associated using polyurethane spray-on liners.

The Region VI Alliance developed a one-day Spray-On Truck Bed Liner Training Seminar, which was held in October and November 2006 for more than 70 people involved in the industry. During the seminar, OSHA representatives provided information about the Agency's enforcement policies, compliance assistance resources and cooperative programs, including the On-site Consultation Program, and a number of safety and health topics, including:

  • Hazard communications
  • Respiratory protection and personal protective equipment
  • Ventilation and engineering controls
  • Equipment cleaning , waste disposal and spills

The seminar's content was modeled after a two-day Spray-On Truck Bed Liner Training Seminar that was hosted by Region VI and API and attended by more than 800 industry representatives on February 11-12, 2006, in Dallas, Texas. The seminar was held prior to the Alliance's signing.

"As a result of the Alliance, many API members have requested and received On-site Consultation visits," according to Susan Monroe, Industrial Hygienist, Region VI.

During 2006, the Alliances also provided an opportunity for OSHA and API to share information and expertise at Agency and API-member company meetings. Representatives from both organizations have talked with OSHA staff and truck bed liners companies and their employers and employees in Illinois and Texas.

"API is excited to be working with OSHA on these worker safety and health issues" says Stephanie Bernard, API. "Due to the small size of many businesses in the truck bed liner industry, it can be difficult for some of those companies to educate workers about how to protect themselves from exposures to MDI. By working through the Alliance, we can help companies learn how to provide adequate worker protection for this industry and provide this important education."

For more information about these Alliances and their activities, contact Charlie Shields, Assistant Regional Administrator, in Region V, or Susan Monroe, Industrial Hygienist, in Region VI.

As of December 2006; updated March 2007.


1Region V, Indiana Department of Labor, Michigan Department of Labor, Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, Illinois On-site Consultation Program, Ohio On-site Consultation Program, Wisconsin Health Consultation Program and Alliance for the Polyurethane Industry.
2Dallas Regional Office and Dallas Area Office and Fort Worth Area Office and Alliance for the Polyurethane Industry.

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Alliance With Region VI Lubbock Area Office And T&T Staff Management LP Promotes Safety in Spanish-Speaking Community

On January 9, 2004, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Lubbock Area Office and T&T Staff Management LP (T&T) established an Alliance to foster safer and more healthful workplaces. T&T is the largest staff leasing company* in El Paso, Texas, representing 300 construction companies with over 6,000 employees. Through the Alliance, OSHA and T&T are providing the management, employees and clients of T&T with information, guidance and access to training resources to protect the health and safety of T&T employees. They are focusing on reducing and preventing exposure to construction hazards such as falls from different elevations, struck-by and caught-in between objects, and electrocution hazards.

Since this story was posted on the OSHA Web site, the OSHA Region VI Lubbock, Texas Area Office and T&T Staff Management, LP, Alliance has been renewed (on August 20, 2007). The Alliance continues to provide information, assistance, and training to enable employers, employees, and trainees in the construction industry to identify and eliminate safety and health hazards. To that end, it conducts 70% of all training in Spanish.

The Alliance provided the OSHA 10-Hour Construction Outreach Training Program to 86 participants (37 English speakers and 49 Spanish speakers) in 2007. From January to August 15, 2008, it provided the same training program to 37 participants (16 English speakers and 21 Spanish speakers).

In 2007, the Alliance provided a New Hire Safety Orientation Program to 1,948 English speakers and 3,617 Spanish speakers for a total of 5,565 new employees. From January through August 15, 2008, it provided this same training to 1,319 English speakers and 2,451 Spanish speakers for a total of 3,770 new employees. In addition, it provided safety training in the following areas: food service, powered industrial trucks, confined spaces, hazard communication, aerial lifts, scaffolding and excavation to 934 employees during 2007 and 445 employees from January through August 15, 2008.

Through the Alliance, T&T is now providing a "Big 4" Construction Hazards (i.e., falls, electrocution, caught in, and struck by) Training Program in English and Spanish and has added a general industry component to the orientation schedule so that it now provides 11 New Hire Safety Orientation Programs per week. In August 2008, T&T collaborated with the Hispanic Contractors Association de Tejas, the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce, and the Small Business Administration to present the OSHA 10-Hour Construction Outreach Training Program and "Big 4" Construction Hazards Training Program to approximately 200 English- and Spanish-speaking client supervisors and employees. The class was open to all construction trades in El Paso.

From January through August 15, 2008, T&T worked with the Hispanic Contractors Association of Tejas, the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce, and the Small Business Administration to provide a 10-Hour Collaborative Training to 125 English- and 81 Spanish-speaking employees.

T&T has experienced a 25-percent reduction in injury claims since the inception of the Alliance in January 2004.

As of May 2009.
One of the billboards that encourages workers to work safely

One of the billboards that encourages workers to work safely.

T&T entered into the Alliance after its worker compensation costs reached more than $3.5 million. At that time, Richard F. Tapio, OSHA Region VI Area Director for the Lubbock and El Paso Offices, said "One of the focuses of this Alliance…is that we're bringing training to the workplace and workers should see a reduction in injuries." In late 2004, Thad Steele, president and owner of T&T, noted that the worker compensation claims declined by $1.2 million while the number of employees had increased by 800. Injuries also declined from 112 to 56 during that time. As quoted in a March 2004 article in the El Paso Times, Mr. Steele said, "Safety was a low priority [for T&T] and now it's the highest priority. The old line (that) safety pays [is] really [true…it] does in my industry. The accidents we see now are more minor in nature and catastrophic claims have been reduced easily by 30 percent," he said. According to Richard Tapio, this Alliance works well "because of the aggressiveness of the company [T&T] in focusing on the safety of its employees."

Using the Alliance as its motivation, T&T has made important changes. It has increased its safety and health staff from one person to six people. Most of these new people do safety inspections at the work sites of T&T's clients. T&T also requires every new employee to take a 90-minute safety orientation class; supervisors take the OSHA Construction Industry 10-hour Training Outreach Program. Through the Alliance, OSHA and T&T are offering these classes in Spanish, the primary language of 60 to 70 percent of its workforce, and in English. For many of the employees, this is the first safety training they have ever attended.

The success of the Alliance between OSHA and T&T has served as a catalyst in the organizations' collaboration with El Paso Associated General Contractors, JDW Insurance and the El Paso Del Norte branch of the American Society of Safety Engineers in a 2-month-long billboard campaign (during the autumn of 2005) aimed at promoting safety and health in the workplace. JDW Insurance covers many El Paso companies. According to W. Martin Yung, company president, workplace policies make up about 40 percent of JDW's business by premiums paid. "Injuries have an impact that reaches consumers," he said. "If you reduce these injury-related costs, you ultimately reduce the costs of the products they deliver."

The billboards, 14 of which are in Spanish, show a young girl gazing out a window next to this text: "Ellos esperan que llegues a casa sano y salvo ... y nosotros tambien." The English version, which appears on four billboards, reads, "They expect you to come home safe and sound. So do we." The billboards were placed in carefully selected locations including residential neighborhoods and on school bus routes in an attempt to reach out to families and children. "We're hoping this [effort] multiplies in discussions over the dinner table; it's something with meaning for everyone,"said Joe Gomez, executive vice president of El Paso Associated General Contractors.

Media coverage of the billboards has been very good. In October 2005, the El Paso Times published a story entitled, "Billboards push workplace safety." The local NBC affiliate also covered the story by interviewing Mr. Tapio, who pointed out that construction industry efforts to reduce worker injuries and deaths in El Paso have moved from construction work sites and training rooms to public streets.

For additional information about this Alliance and it activities, please contact Christine Webb, OSHA Region VI.


As of November 2005; Updated May 2009
 


*According to Thad Steele, in Texas, "Staff leasing services means an arrangement by which employees of a license holder are assigned to work at a client company; employment responsibilities are shared by the license holder and the client company; employees' assignments are intended to be of a long-term or continuing, rather than temporary or seasonal in nature; and a majority of the work force at a client company worksite or a specialized group within that work force consists of assigned employees of the license holder. In short, T&T is responsible for the payroll function for client companies; T&T is the employer of record for tax purposes; and T&T's worker compensation policy provides coverage for all leases [leased] employees. In addition T&T provides HR as well as safety consulting as a part of its services."

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OSHA Region VI Alliance Signed with Houston Area Organizations Addressing Workplace Safety for Teens

Through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Alliance Program, high school students in Houston are getting real world exposure to job safety, health and environmental conditions. A public-private Alliance aimed at reducing injuries, illnesses and fatalities among teen workers links together OSHA, the American Society of Safety Engineers – Gulf Coast Chapter (ASSE-GCC), the Houston Independent School District (HISD) and the Texas Engineering Extension Services (TEEX) to bring workplace safety to 26 Houston high schools. The Alliance was signed on May 7, 2003.

According to a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) nearly 200,000 teens in the U.S. are injured each year in occupational settings. Approximately 70 teens under the age of 18 years of age are fatally injured annually. Work place fatalities among teen workers resulted from homicides, equipment rollovers, falls, and electrocutions. Teens are also injured while working in agriculture, retail, services, construction and other industries. Common injuries sustained by teens include sprains, strains, contusions, lacerations, and fractures. Approximately 100,000 teens aged 15 to 17 visit emergency rooms each year for work-related injuries.

As a result of the Alliance, OSHA, ASSE, TEEX and HISD have developed training and educational programs for students and teachers based on OSHA's general industry standards. Volunteers are using safety and health curricula related to specific industry and technology programs (such as in agriculture, business and office, health science, food production, and trade and industry). Volunteer professionals are educating students about safety, health and environmental fields and providing train-the-trainer courses to educators each year.

"Close to 50 volunteers from the ASSE Gulf Coast Chapter representing 25 different companies are teaching 60-and 90-minute classes and have been provided with presentation materials and training guides," ASSE Gulf Coast Chapter Past President Cindy Lewis said. "This collaborative effort is the first of its kind in the nation aimed at reducing fatalities and injuries among teen workers who head out for summer jobs or first full-time positions. And, in addition to working full-time, these committed ASSE members are volunteering their time and talents towards this Alliance aimed at reducing workplace injuries and fatalities." The ASSE Gulf Coast Chapter represents 1300 members in 18 counties along the Gulf Coast.

In addition, ASSE and OSHA volunteers are teaching workplace safety and health, and hazard recognition to high school students enrolled in the HISD Career and Technology Education programs. TEEX will be conducting train-the-trainer courses for HISD teachers to certify them as OSHA 10-hour instructors. TEEX held a number of classes last summer at local high schools and the next TEEX classes are scheduled for the Spring/Summer of 2005.

This Alliance also helps to fulfill the Department of Labor (DOL) YouthRules! initiative. "As part of Secretary Chao's YouthRules! initiative to keep America's working teens safe and healthy while on the job, we developed web sites to provide our young workers with the knowledge they deserve so they can have safe and positive work experiences," OSHA Administrator John Henshaw said. "The YouthRules! Initiative seeks to educate young workers, parents, educators, and employers on worker safety."

A partnership with Alliance members and the DOL -Wage & Hour Division's Houston office resulted in a Youth Rules! Rally held on May 15, 2004. Seven hundred students, and many of their parents, visited Greenspoint Mall in Houston, Texas, to learn about child labor and safety and health laws, careers and local summer job opportunities. The rally was funded by 8 Houston area businesses who each donated $1,000 towards the event and its related expenses such as giveaways, decorations and entertainment.

Further, since the agreement was signed, several other projects and programs have been developed to meet the goals of the Alliance, including:

  • Spring 2003 - Forty-two vocational technical school teachers requested and received assistance from Alliance members, particularly TEEX, to help teach safety and health in their classrooms.
  • Summer 2004 - Additional teachers at HISD, and vocational teachers at the Spring Independent School District, received the OSHA 501 training from TEEX. This training was funded by the Governors' office.

The Alliance participants have identified a number of future endeavors, including:

  • Fall 2004 - The groups will re-sign the Alliance and plan to update classroom training materials and expand the program.
  • Spring 2005 - The 2nd Annual YouthRules! Rally will be held.

"We are all excited about this Alliance. This valuable occupational safety and health program will benefit everyone: youth, families, neighborhoods and businesses," said TEEX Career Safe Coordinator, Lisa London.

For additional information about this Alliance and it activities, please contact Christine Webb, OSHA Region VI.

As of November 2004.

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