Preliminary results from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries released on August 22, show a slight reduction in the number of fatal work injuries in 2012 compared with 2011. Approximately 4500 workers die on the job annually. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez stated that “job gains in oil and gas . . . have come with more fatalities, and that is unacceptable. That’s why OSHA has undertaken a number of outreach and educational initiatives, including the National Voluntary Stand Down of U.S. Onshore Oil and Gas Exploration and Production, co-sponsored by oil and gas industry employers and planned for Nov. 14.” “Employers must take job hazards seriously and live up to their legal and moral obligation to send their workers home safe every single day. The Labor Department is committed to preventing these needless deaths, and we will continue to engage with employers to make sure that these fatality numbers go down further.” (To read the entire Statement by Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez, please click here.)

Employers in the oil and gas industry, particularly drilling sites engaging in hydraulic fracturing, can expect that OSHA will be conducting site inspections focusing on overall safety and silica exposures. The best defense to an OSHA inspection is a good offense. A good safety program that focuses on training and discipline are of paramount importance. These practices will not only help employers maintain a healthy workforce but will also go a long way toward lowering the possibility of receiving an OSHA citation.