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Free classes teach safety in gas, oil industry

By Jacob Runnels | Dix Communications Published: July 6, 2016 8:34 AM
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The Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP) is a nonprofit, nonmember-based service funded by Ohio oil and gas producers to educate and promote safety on the job.

Executive director of OOGEEP Rhonda Reda said this program is funded “100 percent by the oil and gas producers who have oil and gas production in Ohio.” This safety training — which involves firefighter, workforce and industry training as well as teacher workshops and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education workshops — is used to teach people about the industry as well as promote safety in the workplace.

“We want to make sure our workers get the most up to date information regarding to working safely out there with the crude oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids that we’re drilling for and producing here in Ohio,” safety and workforce director Charlie Dixon said. “That’s important to us that they take our training and they continue safety as an everyday value.”

The OOGEEP recently held a workshop where participants would learn how to respond to oilfield emergencies, such as site emergency response, emergency evaluation and response resources. Each participant who completed the workshop left with resources, such as a certificate of attendance and documentation for continuing education units (CEU) credit hours.

Reda said some programs can have “an entire day spent on a single topic,” which can range from teaching OSHA requirements or the risks of working outside with the wildlife. As well as being targeted to oil and gas producers and industry contractors, Reda said there are also STEM programs — targeting students from kindergarten to twelfth grade — which has a “curriculum that meets both state and national science standards.”

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“As an industry, it’s our responsibility to help support our local schools, our local teachers and obviously those students participating,” she said. “We’ve had 2,800 teachers from all 88 counties participate in the program and that’s because it truly meets their specific science standards.”

Reda said the OOGEEP started in 1996 with “conversations about what we can do as an industry” to “aggregate funds to create these programs,” which began with a project addressing education in schools.

“As an industry, we do feel it’s our responsibility to support education,” she said. “Since then, we have expanded in a lot more areas, thanks to the great leadership in this industry and we’ve expanded to a lot more areas then we were initially charged with.”

Marty Miller, chairman of the OOGEEP board and vice president of operations for Alliance Petroleum Corporation, serves as a moderator for these safety classes. At his latest safety class, he taught people about job hazard safety where he was able to “make an application to that specific type of job,” such as working on pipelines.

He said one of the most common occurring accidents he’s seen in his work involves driving safety, which he instructs workshop participants about driving safety and learning defensive driving habits. He said a moment where the “appropriate application” of the safety training came in handy when he taught a participant how to properly cut down a tree that could be in the way or has fallen on an access road.

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“We always have trees that, through a storm or something, fall down across an access road or we have trees that we have to cut up,” Miller said. “I went through a complete step by step way of showing him exactly the same way to handle that … It was a perfect way of awareness now that many can take it from the workshop right to the job and put it into practice with my people there.”

Miller said what sets the OOGEEP safety training workshops apart from other workshops is how they get “real time, day-to-day” subjects in “our daily work requirements that are pertinent to us.”

“The difference on our part is I think we’ve got the most hands-on type of training there could possibly be,” he said. “We’re out there every day and our people that are looking at these issues, we’re trying to be so proactive of steering ahead of any problems that we possibly can.”

Reda said the approach the OOGEEP takes is a “proactive instead of reactive” measure when addressing how proactive these workshops are at promoting safety. Miller said an example of how they’re proactive is how they train people to work on horizontal drilling wells.

“We have to be proactive in knowing and seeing in advance what potential problems could develop and get it taken care of in advance,” Miller said. “It’s a changing world and everybody’s job, not just the oil and gas industry, [involves] doing new things in new ways. We’re constantly running into more… wells and higher lines of production.”

According to its website, the OOGEEP scheduled two STEM teacher workshops in June and July, hosted in Marietta and Canton, respectively. There will also be an oil history symposium held in Casper, West Virginia in July.


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