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Occupational health and safety and labour issues

Health and safety

What health and safety regulations and procedures apply to oil and gas operations (upstream, midstream and downstream)?

In general, all aspects of oil and gas operations are covered by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) general industry regulations (29 CFR § 1910), which outline a wide range of requirements and standards, including:

  • proper machine operation protocol;
  • personal protective equipment;
  • emergency response; and
  • hazardous materials.

OSHA’s regulation on recordkeeping (29 CFR §1904) applies to these operations. However, OSHA’s Process Safety Management regulations (applicable to the use and processing of hazardous chemicals) impose a complicated set of requirements that apply only to downstream oil and gas refining operations, so do not apply to oil and gas refining operations upstream (per 29 CFR § 1910.119(a)(2)(ii)). Site preparation in regards to oil and gas operations, considered to be construction activity, is covered by OSHA’s construction regulations (29 CFR § 1926). There is also a general obligation under OSHA’s General Duty Clause to provide a safe workplace in regard to all oil and gas operations.

Midstream and downstream operation employers must also comply with certain requirements for pipelines under the Department of Transportation’s regulations and, depending on the type of shipment method, OSHA’s hazard communication standards on labelling and communicating hazards (29 CFR § 1910.1200).

Labour law

Are there any labour law provisions with specific relevance to the oil and gas industry (eg, with regard to use of native and foreign personnel)?

No National Labour Relations Act provisions have specific relevance to the oil and gas industry.

What is the state of collective bargaining/organised labour in your jurisdiction’s oil and gas industry?

Organised labour remains a vital segment of the oil and gas industry. Approximately 60,000 US workers in the oil and gas industry are covered by collective bargaining agreements. Collective bargaining in the industry is led by the National Oil Bargaining Programme and its policy committee, which sets nationwide bargaining objectives that guide negotiations on the local level. The National Oil Bargaining Programme applies to all workers in the oil and gas industry, including major and private employers. Lead employers in the various trades and enterprises comprising the greater oil and gas industry negotiate with lead unions regarding issues that affect all workers on a national level. The agreements that these lead employers and unions execute are then used as patterns within the various trades and enterprises across the nation. 

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