January 17, 2021

Volume XI, Number 17


January 15, 2021

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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



About this Author

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

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...

Patrick J. Veters Employment Attorney Jones Walker

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...