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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: May 3, 2021 04:21 PM
From: Senator Sharif Street and Sen. Katie J. Muth, Sen. Lindsey M. Williams
To: All Senate members
Subject: Worker Safety Protections in the Oil and Gas Drilling Industry
In the near future, we will introduce legislation that would require Pennsylvania to create and submit for approval an OSHA-Approved State Plan which includes worker safety regulations above and beyond OSHA’s current standards for oil and gas industry workers. OSHA has direct federal jurisdiction over OSHA worker safety regulations in Pennsylvania. The Commonwealth is one of 28 states that does not have an OSHA-Approved State Plan.

Several industries have industry-specific standards under OSHA regulations, including construction, maritime, and agriculture. While OSHA’s general industry standards provide vague protections that cover a wide variety of industries, there is still no industry-specific standard related to oil and gas drilling operations. This lack of standard specific to drilling operations has made it difficult for OSHA inspectors and officials to address unique safety issues in an industry where the death rate is among the highest in the United States.

While the industry is subject to certain standards, including those covering electrical work and construction of wells, they are exempt from standards other industries must follow. Some examples include hearing conservation rules to protect workers’ hearing at loud job sites, lockout-tagout rules requiring machines to be turned off during service, and exposure to benzene and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are known to cause cancer.

Our legislation would direct Pennsylvania to create a state plan to address deficiencies in current OSHA regulations for worker health and safety protection oversight. The standards would apply to both direct oil and gas drilling company employees and to the contractors employed for various portions of their operations.

Please join us in co-sponsoring this important worker protection legislation.