Oil and Gas Contractors – Navigating The OSHA Minefield

The oil and gas industry relies heavily on contractors and consultants.    For example, by some estimates only about 10 percent of the workers who go offshore actually work for an oil and gas company.  One popular approach is for skilled contractors to work under a professional employer organization, an umbrella company that handles their HR and payroll needs.    The arrangement offers flexibility to the professionals involved and the companies that  contract with them.

However, one consideration is how safety is managed under these arrangements.    OSHA has been very public in the last six months about stressing the responsibilities of host companies to make sure temporary or leased workers are protected from hazards .   OSHA has a special website where it explains those responsibilities.  Significantly, it also has news releases about companies cited for putting temporary workers at risk and even a banner that flashes the headlines about violators.   The message could not be more obvious – companies that get caught not following OSHA’s lead on protecting temporary workers are likely to see their names in the headlines. (see article on Shame Game here).

Companies that hire temporary workers, contractors and consultants, as well as staffing agencies or professional employer organizations, need to understand OSHA’s directives and follow them.    There is a good background analysis on the OSHA positions written by Jeffry Carter, RMS Regulatory Services, and John D. Surma, Adams & Reese.  It is worth a read.



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