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Safety is key in the oil field, experts say

Oil-field safety is a key focus for both the oil and gas companies and government regulators.
by Adam Wilmoth Published: September 28, 2012

The oil and natural gas industry also has focused on processes and equipment, reducing the opportunity for people to get hurt on the job.

Government oversight through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and other agencies has spurred the effort, but Gumfory said most industry players have gone much further than the law requires.

“OSHA sets the minimum floor, but everybody goes above and beyond that to ensure that we keep our workers safe,” he said. “That's the goal. It's not just to comply with OSHA. We want to keep everybody out of harm's way.”

Gumfory said there is pressure within the industry for each company to maintain a strong safety record.

“We can't stay in business and work with these folks if we're unsafe,” he said. “They wouldn't want to do business with us.”

On a rig site, it is common for representatives from more than a half dozen companies to work on a well together.

And the industry is still fairly small.

If a company has a reputation for being unsafe, word would spread quickly.

Another key motivation is cost. While safety equipment and training can be expensive, that cost does not compare to potential costs of injury or death.

“Safety is not nearly as expensive as not being safe,” Gumfory said.

by Adam Wilmoth
Energy Editor
Adam Wilmoth returned to The Oklahoman as energy editor in 2012 after working for four years in public relations. He previously spent seven years as a business reporter at The Oklahoman, including five years covering the state's energy sector....
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