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The oil and gas sector just got a bit safer.

That is because the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) signed a two-year alliance with the National Service, Transmission, Exploration & Production Safety Network and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities among workers in the exploration and production sector of the oil and gas industry.

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“Too many oil and gas industry workers are being hurt or killed on the job,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels just after he signed the safety agreement prior to his keynote address at the Oil & Gas Safety and Health Conference in Houston, Texas. “These tragedies are preventable and we need to work together to address hazards, prevent injuries and save lives.”

The rapid growth of employment in this industry has coupled with an increase in worker fatalities. In 2013, 112 workers ended up killed in the oil and gas industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most fatalities occurred among workers with less than one year on the job. Workers face a number of hazards such as motor vehicle crashes, fires and explosions, electrocution and exposure to respirable silica.

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Through the alliance, participants will develop fact sheets and videos on the leading causes of fatalities in oil and gas exploration and production, provide OSHA materials and training resources for employers and workers, and support oil and gas safety stand-downs.

Founded in 2003, the National STEPS Network is a volunteer organization that includes industry operators and contractors, industry associations, OSHA and NIOSH representatives, and educational institutions who promote safety, health and environmental improvement in oil and gas exploration and production in U.S. onshore operations. Alliance participants will also work closely with the National Occupational Research Agenda Oil and Gas Extraction Council, coordinated by NIOSH. The Council seeks to identify and implement strategies to improve workplace practices within the industry.

Through its Alliance Program, OSHA works with unions, consulates, trade and professional organizations, faith- and community-based organizations, businesses and educational institutions to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses. The purpose of each alliance is to develop compliance assistance tools and resources, and to educate workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities. Alliance Program participants do not receive exemptions from OSHA inspections or any other enforcement benefits.

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