Wouldn’t it be nice if industries didn’t have to worry about OSHA, DOT or EPA rules, regulations or laws? Just think about it: less paperwork, fewer programs to administer, fewer bureaucrats meddling in a corporation’s business operations. In a perfect world of oilfield safety where mistakes never happened, this might be a great idea.
But obviously there’s a downfall to the laissez-faire approach: fewer employees would be going home safe at the end of the day. Because the truth is, mistakes do happen, and it is actually in the company’s best interests to implement rigid oilfield safety regulations. These not only protect the employees – the company’s largest asset – but policies and protocols also reduce a company’s liability in the case of an accident.
So, what about a compromise? What if a company or industry could just be exempted from some of the rules? According to Larry Holdge of Valiant, “If we start down this path, then we must ask ourselves the question, which regulations do I think could be relaxed with no increased risk to employees? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be the one to make that decision.”
But those decisions have been made by someone for the oil & gas industry on drilling sites. Since 1983, OSHA has issued exemptions to the oil & gas industry in their regulations concerning the control of hazardous energy – from Lockout-Tagout (LOTO) procedures and Benzene exposure to process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals and noise exposure rules. The EPA has issued exemptions to the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. The DOT has issued exemptions to their regulations concerning oil & gas well service drivers and how they calculate on-duty hours.1
While some industry leaders argue that mandated regulations would do little to improve safety beyond the voluntary programs already in place, the fact is that the oil and gas industry’s death rate has regularly been among the highest of all industries in the United States.1 “It’s one thing for a government agency to issue safety and environmental exemptions, and it’s another for an organization to use those exemptions to do less than the right thing.”
At Valiant Artificial Lift Solutions, we believe in holding ourselves to a higher standard than the exemptions, especially when we know it is the right thing to do. As employees of the oil & gas industry, we clearly understand the risks of our jobs and the best practices concerning those risks. Therefore, we should take the responsibility upon ourselves to practice integrity in the workplace and put oilfield safety first, no matter what the exemptions allow us to do.
Regulatory exemptions, no matter what industry they apply to, should not be used as an excuse for operating in a way that is less than the best. So, next time you have a choice between the easy way and the hard way, choose the safe way.
Reference: Soraghan, Mike. E&E News. (4 Nov 2014). Drilling’s safety exemptions and how they got there. Retrieved from: https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060008302
Larry Holdge has over 10 years of experience in the oil & gas industry, along with an additional 30 years of senior management experience in various industries.
At Valiant, service is driven by safety.
We believe a fierce commitment to safety is at the heart of service excellence. As part of this commitment, we refuse to make decisions or undertake actions which compromise the safety of our workplace – wherever our people may be. To learn more about Valiant’s promise and the core values we live by, visit our About page,