OSHA’s New Target For SVEP: Oil And Gas Well Drilling Operations
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) isn’t exactly a new sheriff in town when it comes to the oil and gas industry. Over the past few years, OSHA has relied on several regional emphasis programs for increased scrutiny of this industry.
However, in February, OSHA’s Enforcement Director, Tom Galassi announced a new policy, whereby oil and gas well drilling, well operations, and support work are designated “high-hazard” for the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP). According to OSHA, the new policy is justified because over the past 2 decades, the oil and gas industry has had a fatality rate at least five times greater than the national average for all industries.
Over a week after OSHA’s initial announcement, OSHA publicly released a February 2015 memorandum delineating more details regarding its new policy. The policy, which authorizes the addition of “upstream oil and gas hazards” to the list of High-Emphasis Hazards in SVEP, is effective for any citations that are issued on or after 11 February 2015, the date of the memorandum.
Under the new policy, a nonfatality inspection in which OSHA finds two or more willful or repeated violations or failure-to-abate notices (or any combination of these violations/notices), based on high gravity serious violations related to upstream oil and gas activities, will now be considered a severe violator enforcement case.