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OSHA Outreach to Oil and Gas Companies in South Texas

The Corpus Christi Area Office has initiated an outreach effort to the oil and gas industry in the South Texas area after conducting an analysis of fatality statistics.

The results of the statistical analysis revealed that 30 per cent of the fatal injuries investigated by the Corpus Christi Area Office over the past three years occurred in the oil and gas industry. In an effort to reduce the number of fatalities and to raise awareness to the causes of the fatalities in this type of industry, the Area Office approached several members of the industry and proposed a meeting to discuss the possibility of forming an Alliance.

The first meeting was held on September 23, 2003, with the help of Marc La Rocca of the El Paso Corporation. Seventy-five individuals, representing 44 different companies and associations, attended the meeting and began discussing methods of improving safety and health performance throughout the industry.

As an outgrowth of this first attempt to reach out to the industry, this group formed a South Texas Exploration and Production Safety (STEPS) Network. The STEPS Network involves employers across the industry, from the major producers, through drilling contractors, to employers providing specialized well servicing. Large and small employers are afforded equal footing in addressing safety and health issues. The Network provides an opportunity for safety and health issues to be presented and discussed from different points of view. The Network also provides producers, drillers, and service companies in the South Texas area their first chance to discuss safety and health issues common to worksites shared by many participating employers.

During the STEPS Network's monthly meeting, valuable information is shared with all attendees. Each meeting is facilitated by a different operator. Meetings begin with a safety sharing moment or discussion of the findings of close call investigations. The objective of these sharing moments and discussions are to remind participants about their goal of reducing the number of incidents, including fatalities, in their industry. At a recent meeting, the executive director of the local air ambulance service discussed their capabilities, landing zone requirements, and accessibility. Rich Ingram of British Petroleum (BP) America Production Company shared his company's Air Ambulance Protocol with all interested parties.

In addition, one of the recurring concerns discussed by the group was the duplication in training requirements of various customers. A related issue was the time and cost associated with training provided to contractors to meet customers' training requirements. Many participants were of the opinion that duplication of training requirements added no value to the safety of employees. Having identified this problem, participants are now discussing the development of a universal basic safety training format. All parties recognized that in addition to the universal safety training under discussion, they must fulfill their basic safety training requirement with separate site specific training.

For more information, please contact Marianne McGee, Compliance Assistance Specialist in OSHA's Corpus Christi Area Office.

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