September 29, 2020

Volume X, Number 273

September 29, 2020

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

September 28, 2020

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

OSHA Issues COVID Related Guidance for the Oil & Gas Industry

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued COVID-19 guidance for workers and employers in the oil and gas industry. While this guidance is specifically geared to the oil and gas industry, the guidance is not unlike other best practices OSHA has recommended for other workers in the general industry.

Since each drilling and production site is not identical, employers should initially conduct a risk assessment of their worksites and then consider implementing some of the following engineering and administrative controls, where feasible, recommended by OSHA:

  • Stagger workers’ arrival and departure times to avoid congregations of workers

  • Provide visual cues (e.g. floor markings, signs) as a reminder to maintain social distancing of 6 feet

  • Designate workers to monitor and facilitate distancing

  • Limit the number of personnel allowed in dog houses, control rooms and other operating areas

  • Stagger break times or provide temporary break areas, including for water breaks, and restrooms to avoid groups of workers gathering during breaks

  • Encourage workers to avoid carpooling to and from work and job sites

  • Provide workers with hand washing stations as well as alcohol-based hand sanitizers in multiple locations

The extend of implementation of these measures will depend, in part, on the level of risk exposure (lower, medium, high or very high) that accompany a worker’s task. While the measures listed above do not constitute binding regulatory standards, OSHA will likely refer to these administrative and engineering controls when deciding whether or not to issue COVID-19 related citations under their catch-all provision, the General Duty Clause. Accordingly employers should be well versed in the specific guidance provided by OSHA. Complete guidance recommended by OSHA can be viewed on OSHA’s coronavirus webpage. For further information about the coronavirus, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

© 2020 Jones Walker LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 198

TRENDING LEGAL ANALYSIS


About this Author

Jane H. Heidingsfelder, Jones Walker, MSHA Employer Representation Lawyer, Injury Reporting Policy Attorney
Partner

Jane Heidingsfelder is a partner in the firm's Labor & Employment Practice Group in the New Orleans office. She has extensive experience representing clients in a wide array of industries before the Occupational Safety & Health Administration ("OSHA") and Mine Safety & Health Administration ("MSHA"). In particular, she is frequently asked to assist companies during on-site safety and health investigations, as well as in subsequent litigation with the Department of Labor. 

Ms. Heidingsfelder has defended clients in state and federal...

504.582.8306
Patrick J. Veters Employment Attorney Jones Walker
Partner

Pat Veters is a partner in the Labor & Employment Practice Group. He concentrates on OSHA compliance and litigation.


Pat has extensive experience representing clients in a wide array of industries in governmental investigations and administrative proceedings brought before the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and the Mine Safety Health Act (MSHA). Drawing on his decades of experience defending clients in state and federal courts and administrative agencies, Pat and the firm have developed effective relationships with government officials and agency regulators at the national, regional, state, and local levels. He frequently assists and advises companies during on-site safety and health investigations, and in subsequent litigation with the Department of Labor. Pat has helped clients respond to investigations by the Chemical Safety Board (CSB), the US Coast Guard (USCG), OSHA, and MSHA, as well as state regulatory agencies.

Pat has tried many cases in front of judges and juries in federal and state courts in multiple jurisdictions, including cases before the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Among other high-profile matters, he argued before the US Supreme Court against the Department of Labor in Elaine Chao v. Mallard Bay Drilling, a case that defined the permissible jurisdictional boundaries between OSHA and the US Coast Guard. He regularly defends employers who have been issued citations and penalties by OSHA and, in addition to his courtroom advocacy, has litigated cases before the OSHA Review Commission.

As part of his counseling practice, Pat assists clients in developing safety and health policies, and procedures and contingency plans for responding to governmental investigations. He counsels clients on proactive risk management and assists client-safety professions on process safety and risk management matters.

In addition to his OSHA practice, Pat has a robust general litigation practice, with an emphasis on tort and commercial litigation.

504-582-8620