A proposal in the Pennsylvania General Assembly would establish a mandatory training and certification program for any worker on an unconventional well site in the state.

Senate Bill 1285 would establish the Marcellus Shale Industry Job Training and Certification Advisory Board to recommend training and certification requirements for industry employees. “The training and certification is needed in order to ensure the health and safety of persons working in the industry, as well as the people in the surrounding area,” state Sen. Jim Brewster, a Democrat from southwestern Pennsylvania, wrote to fellow lawmakers in September.

The nine-member board would be appointed by the secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry and would include three representatives from the labor community, three representatives from the natural gas industry, two consumer advocates and the secretary. The bill would require all workers to get certified before being allowed to work at a Marcellus or Utica shale well site, and it would require current workers to get certified within one year.

The proposal likely faces an uphill battle.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett did not include job training or certification in his proposed package of Marcellus Shale legislation expected to be released soon. Although that package is based on the recommendations of the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission (MSAC), Corbett noted that more than half of the 96 recommendations from the MSAC could be handled within state agencies and directed his cabinet to draft implementation plans by early November.

In its final report issued this past July, the MSAC said the state should consider providing job training and certification to those seeking jobs in the industry, “as is done with nursing, education and other high-demand professions,” but it did not recommend a mandatory program.

Several educational institutions in Pennsylvania offer job training programs, and the industry also runs training programs, such as Chesapeake Energy Corp.’s Eastern Training Center and Housing Facility in northeastern Pennsylvania (see Shale Daily, Nov. 24, 2010).