NORA Oil and Gas Extraction Council Safety Summit: History

Safety Summit History
Silica Warning Sign at Well Site Photo by NIOSH

Silica Sign at Well Site Photo by NIOSH

In March 2018, the American Industrial Hygiene Association’s Rocky Mountain Section and the American Society of Safety Professionals’ Colorado Chapter convened Silica in the Oilfield, a day-long conference held in Denver, Colorado, for health and safety professionals working in oil and gas extraction (OGE). OGE industry representatives were invited to present on available controls at the time designed to limit occupational exposures to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) from quartz sand proppant during hydraulic fracturing operations. The Silica in the Oilfield conference provided the industry the opportunity to explain and discuss their development and implementation of controls including elimination of quartz sand, substitution of alternative (non-quartz) proppants, alternative ways to transport and handle quartz sand, policy and procedures and training, and use of respiratory protection. A review of the conference presentations describing controls developed to help minimize RCS exposures can be found here.

Due to continued interest and advancements in the control of RCS, the Oil and Gas Extraction Council hosted a national virtual symposium on April 13–14, 2021, titled Silica in the Oilfield Summit 2.0. Agenda topics included advances in engineering controls technology, evaluations of the effectiveness of engineering controls, OSHA regulatory update, and companies’ experiences in implementing the hierarchy of controls for RCS. The summit provided attendees with important information relevant to the June 23, 2021 compliance date in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) RCS Standard for hydraulic fracturing companies’ obligations for engineering controls.

Because of robust participation and interest from participants in the 2021 Summit, the Oil and Gas Extraction Council established the Summit as an annual event. The 2022 Summit, now called the NORA OGE Spring Health and Safety Summit, was held on April 6–7, 2022. The free virtual summit highlighted state-of-the-art knowledge on advances in occupational noise and heat stress exposure and control; NIOSH research updates and OSHA regulatory updates for noise and heat stress; and companies’ experiences in implementing the hierarchy of controls for these exposures.

Future Summits are anticipated, with a different health and safety topic of importance to the industry to be highlighted each year.