State and federal agencies have asked Oklahoma exploration and production companies to stand down and stop their work for a brief period in response to a rise in the number of fatalities and injuries in the oil and natural gas fields in the state.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Mid-Continent Exploration & Production Safety (MCEPS) Network asked Oklahoma producers to engage in a voluntary stand-down to discuss safety issues and policies. Companies could use the stand-down, which would last anywhere from a half hour to an hour, to have a “focused safety…talk meeting on all their job sites,” the agencies said.

OSHA said its Oklahoma City area office since October 2011 has investigated nine work-related deaths in the state’s oil and gas industry and one incident where three employees were hospitalized following a drilling rig fire. “This is a significant rise in the number of deaths in this industry in our state as compared to the last few years,” the agency said in its request for the stand-down.

Members of the industry have been invited to attend a three-hour MCEPS meeting on Thursday (June 21) at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City to obtain further information regarding OSHA investigations into the fatalities and accidents, and on safety. The voluntary stand-down would occur after the meeting.

Speakers at the meeting will include David Bates, area director of OSHA; Mark Costello, labor commissioner for the Oklahoma Department of Labor; Kevin Ediger, president of the MCEPS Network; and Rick Ingram, chairperson of National STEPS (South Texas Exploration and Production Safety) Network, which was formed in 2003 in response to the OSHA Corpus Christi, TX, office reaching out to industry to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities. The STEPS Network includes operators and contractors in the oil and gas exploration, production and product transmission industry.

Registration for the event is being conducted through the OSHA Education Center at the University of Texas at Arlington website.

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