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OSHA Region VI partnered with the STEPS network and the University of Texas at Arlington's OSHA Education Center to sponsor a region-wide safety stand down during January and February 2013. The goal of the stand down was to raise safety and health awareness for workers in the upstream oil and gas exploration and production industry. This industry includes drilling, well servicing, production, and many more activities.

OSHA Region VI decided to sponsor the stand down in response to the recent rise in fatalities in the oil and gas industry in the Region, which covers Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. There were 40 fatalities in this industry in Region VI in 2010, 33 in 2011, and 40 in 2012. A stand down is a voluntary commitment to dedicate part of a day to conduct safety training and jobsite inspections at worksites.

During the two-month stand down, 183 locations committed to participating in the voluntary effort, conducted 3,888 site inspections, and identified and corrected 8,392 hazards. In addition to the site inspections, 36,643 workers were trained. OSHA provided training material for use in the stand down, including five modules describing fatal incidents.

John Hermanson, OSHA's Regional Administrator in Region VI stated, "This proactive approach taken by those participating in the stand down can be a lesson to all. This safety stand down identified over eight thousand potential hazards; It is safe to say many, possibly severe injuries, were avoided. I commend those participating companies for participating in this proactive event."

Companies participating in the stand down provided positive feedback, including:

  • "It was a good eye opener for our employees to hear about fatalities, their causes and preventive measures in the oilfield. Our employees really took to heart the information regarding the victim's age and number of years on the job."
  • "I was proud to see our teams work together while discussing hazards and looking for ways to keep themselves and others safe."
  • "Even though this stand down did not apply to our industry it caused our employees to take a fresh look at safety in the workplace. We were able to identify and correct eight risks that we never knew existed. Thank you for the awareness."
  • "I can honestly say that partnering efforts such as this a great way to share information. Our company has seen immediate results from the stand down."

STEPS is an all-volunteer organization founded in 2003 in South Texas by the oil and gas industry and OSHA in an attempt to reduce injuries and fatalities. There are now 17 independent STEPS networks, including nine groups in OSHA Region VI. OSHA has signed Alliances with eight STEPS networks around the country.

More information on this safety stand down and upcoming events is available at OSHA Stand Down. A National Oil and Gas Stand Down involving Region VI and several other OSHA Regions is scheduled for November 2013.

As of August 2013.