On, Oct. 2,2012, Dan Neal of the Equality State Policy Center posted this opinion piece and notice of a public hearing scheduled for Oct. 5, 2012, regarding proposed alterations to OSHA safety rules for workers in the oil and gas industry:

Proposed new drilling safety rules a step forward

Require workers to wear approved flame-resistant clothing

Fire is always a risk in the production and processing of fossil fuels. The Wyoming Occupational Safety and Health Commission recently proposed amendments to its oil and gas industry safety rules that will require workers at drilling sites to wear certified fire retardant clothing while working within 75 feet of the well bore.

The amendments also call for shut-down devices on diesel engines use on or near the rig.

On Sept. 26, the ESPC and the Wyoming State AFL-CIO submitted written comments supporting the amendments. Both organizations specifically support tying the standards for fire-resistant clothing to the latest improvements approved by the National Fire Protection Association. Those standards are developed by a committee of more than 7,000 volunteer industry experts. The NFPA notes committee members bring “a wide range of professional expertise” to its process of developing these standards.

Public hearing
The proposed rules will be the subject of a public hearing Oct. 5 in Casper. The hearing begins at 9 a.m. at the Wyoming Oil & Gas Conservation Commission Building, 2211 King Boulevard.

What’s ahead?
The ESPC has asked state OSHA to develop standards to limit the exposure of rig workers to silica dust during hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health last spring released data from a long study of what is commonly known as “fracking” and found that rig works were exposed to air with more than 28 times the allowable exposure level to silica. Industry officials this summer acknowledged the problem and expressed interest in developing a rule in Wyoming. (See our blog for more information.)


Guy V. Padgett serves as WyoFile’s business manager.

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