As many of our readers know, there are a lot of oil and gas drilling companies here in Texas that try very hard to make sure that their employees are in a safe working environment. They often do this by following OSHA regulations that are supposed to be designed to eliminate the risk of workplace injuries. But a recent investigation done by the Houston Chronicle discovered that these regulations might not be as up to date as people think.
Most people think that after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill occurred, government regulators adopted newer, safer regulations for all oil and gas drilling rigs. But according to reports, these new safety regulations were only for offshore rigs. This meant that many drilling sites here in Texas were still using out-of-date equipment that might not even be that safe.
In fact, the newspaper pointed out that federal authorities have failed for the last 22 years to implement new safety procedures and regulations for onshore drilling. As noted by R. Dean Wingo, the retired Texas-based assistant regional administrator for OSHA, "offshore drilling is a lot safer than onshore."
This is a huge problem for many oil and gas drilling companies that want to ensure the safety of their workers but are unable to because of outdated regulations. Meanwhile, investigators continue to blame some onshore drilling companies for the dangers because of their mobile worksites. Some argue that safety cannot be improved because OSHA cannot confirm a danger when the site is constantly moving. Unfortunately, this speculative argument is doing workers and employers little good when it comes to actually improving workplace safety.
Source: The Insurance Journal, "Report: Texas Accounts 40% of U.S. Oil Field Deaths," The Associated Press, March 10, 2014