Wyoming: Injured oil, gas contractors would net benefits under proposed legislation
Rep. Keith Gingery, R-Jackson, recently introduced H.R. 273, which would make the companies liable for injuries or deaths of all contract employees or service providers at work sites. Although the courts have previously found that big oil and gas operators are not responsible, supporters of the bill argue that the companies are involved in day-to-day activities and should be held accountable for their own negligence in the event of a death or injury to workers. The introduction of the bill was prompted by the deaths of three workers in an oil field in the course three weeks.
Currently, injuries and deaths that take place at oil and gas jobsites are covered under Wyoming's workers' compensation fund. State laws offer the companies protection from wrongful injury and death lawsuits.
The text of the bill would define the duties of the work site operators as owing a "nondelegable duty of reasonable care to an employee of an independent contractor if the owner retains the right to direct the manner of the independent contractor's performance or assumes affirmative duties with respect to safety."
Advocates of the legislation said that these large oil and gas companies typically only contribute to state workers' comp funds for employees, not the employees of independent contractors, and it would prevent them from circumventing the law. Lobbyists for the oil and gas industry said that this bill will prompt more lawsuits and that the industry generally requires its contractor companies to adhere to prescribed safety guidelines and take drug tests.
March 19, 2009
Copyright 2009© LRP Publications