Oilfield Safety a Concern as Energy Demands Rise

August 15, 2005

The American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) Permian Basin Chapter in Midland, Texas, announced it is teaming up with local U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials and the Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission to increase safety for oilfield workers in the wake of increased demand for oil and gas. The groups will present a safety seminar in Odessa, Texas, in mid-September.

As worldwide oil consumption and demand spirals upward so to does the stress on U.S. oilfield workers to meet those demands. That stress is being felt in Texas as new and inexperienced workers are filling an increased number of oilfield jobs. Twenty-five work-related deaths occurred in 2004 in the 63,000 square mile Lubbock region that includes the Permian Basin, far west Texas, Big Bend, Trans-Pecos and Abilene areas, according to OSHA.

The ASSE Permian Basin Chapter along with Texas and New Mexico OSHA officials, the Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission, Cudd Pressure Control, Tuboscope, Chevron, Kinder Morgan and Patterson Drilling will hold a two-day seminar in Odessa, Sept. 14-15 titled “Oilfield Safety on Drilling and Workover Rigs.”

At an Aug. 8 ASSE event in Galveston, TX, OSHA Region VI Administrator John Miles noted OSHA had issued citations and proposed penalties totaling $100,500 against Big Dog Drilling of Midland following the investigation of a worker’s electrocution at a drilling location. OSHA also issued citations against Patterson-UTI Drilling Co. and proposed penalties totaling $187,000 for safety violations that led to a worker’s death.

According to ASSE Permian Basin Chapter President Carl Bailey, “The Permian Basin oilfield business is booming, yet we lack the skilled workers to fill many of those jobs. Our chapter is responding to the needs of the community by sharing members’ hands-on knowledge and experience in oilfield safety. With the demand for oil and gas at an all time high, we need to share this key safety and health information with toolpushers, rig supervisors, geologists and managers to increase oilfield safety now.”

“ASSE safety professionals work every day to make sure the millions of people who go to work return home safely each day. Members of the ASSE Permian Basin Chapter are no exception,” ASSE Region III Vice President Richard Bourlon said. “They identified the need for increased oilfield safety awareness and have sponsored this seminar with local businesses to make a difference in their community.”

According to recent Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 24 oil and gas worker fatalities in the 63,000 square mile Lubbock region in 2003 in the oil and gas industry and 68 nationally.

The ASSE two-day seminar will include sessions on safety and health for rigging, safety programs, environmental and health controls, personal protective equipment, fall protection, confined spaces, fire prevention, welding on or near rigs, lock-out/tag-out – when on a rig, crane regulations, how weather affects safety, fleet safety, hydrogen sulfide dangers, rig-up procedures, rigging practices, emergency action plans, pumps and pressures and their dangers, electrical hazards, well control and more.

Founded in 1911, the Des Plaines, Ill.-based ASSE is the largest and oldest professional safety organization and is committed to protecting people, property and the environment. Its more than 30,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members manage, supervise, research and consult on safety, health, transportation and environmental issues in all industries, government, labor and education. For more information check ASSE’s Website at www.asse.org or www.permianbasinasse.org/.

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