When eight oil field workers in Texas and four surrounding states lost their lives during a 40-day period this summer, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) knew something had to be done. And the oil and gas industry agreed.
So, the TEEX-OSHA Training Institute Southwest Education Center, along with Devon Energy Corp., organized the first advanced oil and gas safety course for OSHA compliance officers. About 50 OSHA compliance officers and staff from across the country attended the week-long course, which was held in September at the NATCO Education Center in Midland.
“We called our friends in the industry, and they readily agreed to co-sponsor events or portions of the program,” said Teresea Madden-Thompson, director of the TEEX-OSHA Training Institute Southwest Education Center. Nearly two dozen Permian Basin oil and gas producers and servicing companies assisted with the course by providing equipment, facilities and experts in the field.
“We in OSHA have noticed there are more injuries, illnesses and fatalities occurring in the oil an gas industry,’ said Deputy Regional Administrator Joe Reina of OSHA Region VI. “We’re trying to be proactive instead of reactive. If we can get a core group of inspectors with some basic knowledge about what happens in the oil and gas industry, we can go out there and do some field inspections and protect the employees. This also gives us the opportunity to partner with the oil and gas industry, so we can work together to lower the injury, illness and fatality rates.”
“We are training compliance officers how to inspect for hazards in oil and gas production, drilling and workover rigs,” said Dr. Ben Cranor, a program manager for TEEX-OSHA. “This is not just classroom education, but the participants are getting to touch, see and really understand the oil and gas industry. We have actual rigs, cutaways and experts to explain the hazards.”
“This has been a very good, practical, hands-on course,” said Sandra Boudloche, an OSHA compliance officer. “This gives us a total picture of what happens at the oil patch. If you know how things are done, you’ll have a better idea at an accident site of what failed.”
“The course showed us the whole process and the safety and health hazards associated with the industry,” said Juan Padron of the OSHA office in Lubbock.
“The feedback on this course was phenomenal,” Madden-Thompson said. “The participants are now out there in the field making it a safer place.”