The Impact of New OSHA Field Operations Manual on the Energy Industry

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is tasked with making regulations for the ensuring the safety of workers at any kind of workplace, has been continuously issuing and updating guidelines on how to implement these in each of the industries it covers.

As regards the energy industry, OSHA issued a new set of guidelines in late 2015. This latest set of guidelines is quite comprehensive in that it greatly empowers OSHA’s compliance and safety officers or inspectors. It issued these guidelines in the form of the Field Operations Manual.

Why was the Field Operations Manual issued now?

The need for pushing through changes into the existing regulations on workplace safety in the energy sector, especially in the oil and gas industries, was felt in the light of a sharp increase in the number of accidents and fatalities in these industries from the time of the last amendment to OSHA guidelines for these industries in 2011.

Highlights of the major changes sought into the Field Operations Manual

The OSHA Field Operations Manual brings about fairly comprehensive changes into the regulations relating to the oil and gas industries of the energy sector. Some of its notable highlights include these:

  • An OSHA compliance and safety officer is empowered to carry out inspections in a single employer’s different worksites even when an accident has taken place in only one of them
  • The OSHA Field Operations Manual has also brought down the rate of reduction of penalty for good faith employers from 35 to 25 percent
  • In continuance of the above, if employers have not been inspected for the previous five years; there is no increase in the reduction rate
  • There is an across-the-board reduction in penalty discounts. For employers with 26-100 employees, it is now 30 percent from the previous 40, while for businesses that employ between 101 and 250 employees have to face a reduced penalty discount from 20 to 10 percent

Additional modifications

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The VUCA approach to leadership

With all the excitement and fulfillment that comes with leadership; challenge inheres into it. These qualities are the two sides of the leadership coin. Only leaders who are smart and nimble and can handle the VUCA challenge can lead organizations and their businesses and take them forward.

What is VUCA?

VUCA is a term used to denote volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. Rooted in the military, these four challenges are considered integral to the test of leadership, and overcoming these is the key to success. No business situation comes without these factors, either singly or all together.

The challenge of putting this acronym into practice is that each is independent of the other, and each has its own application in a given situation. One or more approaches may have to be applied to these challenges in a situation.

Identifying which of these to use in any given situation is the starting point of overcoming the VUCA challenge.

Volatility: It is a given that most business situations are hardly calm or predictable. This is what makes it appealing and charming, yet challenging. A leader has possess the ken for understanding the nature of volatility in a business situation, the situations or reasons that cause it, and the ways of dealing with it. Volatility is embedded into a business because of its core nature –that of change being the only constant.

Uncertainty: Any business, no matter how profitable it could be or how much it is expected to grow, comes with uncertainty. An unexpected development can spring up at any time and present a problem of any magnitude. Unpredictability is deeply intertwined with uncertainty.

Complexity: If business situations were simple, they would not be needing the attention of qualified and experienced leaders. Business situations are by their nature complex. It consists of many separate or interconnected parts, each of which needs proper understanding and sizing up.

Ambiguity: Another of the challenges leadership has to face constantly is ambiguity. There is lack of clarity in most given situations in a business, and there is much lesser clarity on the outcome of actions taken. This makes most business situations ambiguous by nature.

How do leaders go about overcoming VUCA?

Given the nature of these challenges, there is no single, clear-cut method of dealing with each of these. In any situation, any of these challenges could crop up. A generalized approach that leadership can take for tackling the VUCA-related challenges could be:

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