White introduces bill to improve workplace safety in natural gas industry

As part of an effort to improve workplace safety in the energy industry, Pennsylvania state Rep. Jesse White recently introduced legislation to require all employees working at natural gas well sites to complete emergency response training.

Modeled after West Virginia's Red Hat training program for coal miners, H.B. 2245 directs the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to develop and implement a program to provide general orientation at work sites, as well as training in accident prevention, hazard recognition, emergency response and health and safety.

All natural gas employees and subcontractors working at well sites across the state would be require to participate in the training, though veteran workers would only have to complete a short version of the training to prevent disruptions in drilling operations.

Newly hired employees would be identifiable with green hard hats for one year after completion of the training, designating them as new certified employees in the industry.

"While accidents are an inherent part of any industrial activity like Marcellus Shale drilling, we should always be looking for ways to manage the risks to employees and the people living and working near drilling operations," White said. "Through this legislation, we can continue creating a highly trained workforce while promoting additional safety standards that will benefit everyone."

The bill, which has support from four Democrats and one Republican, has been referred to the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee for consideration.