Recent OSHA activity indicates possible changes in the scope and enforcement of the newly-created Improve Tracking of Workplace Injury and Illnesses Rule (Electronic Reporting Rule). OSHA intends to collect less data than the rule requires in order to address concerns about publicizing personally identifiable information (PII). This move suggests other changes to the rule may follow. Continue Reading Recent OSHA Regulatory Shifts May Address Concerns About Electronically Submitting Workplace Injury and Illness Data
UPDATE: On November 22, 2017, OSHA announced that it moved the electronic reporting deadline for 2016 data and information from December 1, 2017 to December 15, 2017. The following blog post has been updated to reflect this change. No other parts of the new electronic submission regulations were changed.
December 15, 2017 is the final deadline to comply with the newly implemented Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) regulations that require electronically submitting 2016 workplace injury data and information to OSHA. To help navigate these regulations, here are few reminders about this new reporting format that affects almost all construction industry businesses.
“Technology has transformed dozens of ways we interact with the world. How we communicate, learn, work, entertain, and provide for ourselves have all been radically altered by computers, sensors, and software. One area where technology is woefully underused, but sorely needed, is in roadway safety.”
Patrick Sorek, Partner with Cohen Seglias recently authored an article for Highway Builder Magazine, titled “We Need Technology to Boost Our Traffic Management” which discussed the need for improvements in transportation technology. The article discusses new ideas for highway technology such as traffic control sensors and cameras to increase roadway safety.
Patrick Sorek is a partner in the Commercial Litigation Group of Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC. Mr. Sorek focuses his practice in commercial litigation, and has considerable experience in civil rights and employment cases.
On November 18, 2010, Pennsylvania’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) unanimously approved new standards that will make natural gas wells safer. The new standards were approved just days before a 13,000 gallon fracking fluid spill in Penn Township, Lycoming County. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is currently investigating the spill, which happened at a site owned by XTO Energy.
Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary John Hanger praised the IRRC vote because the regulations will impose stricter standards on gas well construction, which will make the wells less likely to allow natural gas to seep out and contaminate water supplies or cause safety concerns:
When gas migrates from a poorly constructed gas well through the ground, it can contaminate water supplies or build up to explosive levels in water wells or even homes . . . These strong rules will eliminate or significantly reduce the problem of gas migration from poorly designed or constructed gas wells, as long as the rules are followed or enforced.
The regulations were deemed approved by the House and Senate Environmental Resources and Energy committees, and will next go to the Office of Attorney General for final review and approval. Once all reviews and approvals are obtained, the regulations will go into effect upon publication in the PA Bulletin.
According to the DEP press release, the new standards will require drillers to report production and waste volumes electronically and to submit detailed reports of the chemicals used in the fracking process. Additionally, operators will be required to keep a list of emergency contact phone numbers at the well site and follow a new set of instructions on what steps to take in the event of a gas migration incident. The regulations also include provisions clarifying how and when blow-out prevention equipment is to be installed and operated.
The DEP met with numerous oil and gas operators, industry groups and environmental groups while drafting the regulations to discuss them in detail. The DEP also utilized information obtained from public comments to the regulations, making changes which will improve well safety by preventing accidents. Some of these changes include provisions that:
- Require operators to have a pressure barrier plan to minimize well control events
- Require operators to condition the wellbore to ensure an adequate bond between the cement, casing and the formation
- Require the use of centralizers to ensure casings are properly positioned in the wellbore
- Improve the quality of the cement placed in the casing that protects fresh groundwater
Hopefully, the new regulations will make gas drilling incidents like the Penn Township one less likely to happen in the future. The well-construction standards come on the heels of the news that the Pittsburgh city council recently approved a ban on gas drilling within the city. Although Pittsburgh was the first city to ban gas drilling in Pennsylvania, the vote was just one of many recent moves to curb Marcellus shale drilling within the state.