March Update from the NOBP Chair

This article originally appeared in Issue 41 of The Oilworker. 

We are less than a year away from National Oil Bargaining (NOB) and several of the councils have met or are planning to convene prior to our September NOBP policy meeting.  Hopefully, all the councils will begin formulating their bargaining proposals beforehand, so we can have a starting point when we meet. 

We are in the process of compiling the call letter and we will send it shortly.  The National Oil Bargaining Program conference will be September 23-26, 2018 in San Diego.

We are busy getting the implementation phase coordinated in California for the new Process Safety Management (PSM) standard. We also are having meetings in Washington State on its proposed new PSM language.  Hopefully, we will have two harmonized standards on the West Coast that will help us and our employers. 

These revised PSM standards will be a model for other state plans and OSHA by vastly improving the PSM standard OSHA created nearly 25 years ago. These revisions are based on the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS) “red book”  and incidents in refineries around the world, with the intent to lessen the occurrences and severity of process-related accidents in the industry.

The USW HSE conference is March 26-30. On Wednesday evening (March 28) after the sessions, we will have an informal gathering for the oil sector. If you are attending the conference, plan to make the oil meeting; we look forward to sharing information.

A revised fatigue risk management recommended practice, API 755, should be out shortly. Once it is released, we will send information on the changes and their effect on the locals. Over the last few weeks several serious incidents occurred. Fortunately, no one was injured, but it reminded us of the volatile industry we work in and how we must be vigilant about small changes in our work environments.  If something doesn’t seem quite right, we must raise an alarm and see that it is investigated.  By spending time on the units, we know how things sound and feel, and it gives us a better ability to quickly detect when something changes.  We can never get complacent about our work.

We will continue  our activism around changes to the renewable identification number (RIN) section of the renewable fuel standard (RFS) without pushing for any changes in the blend wall.  Something must be done about the traders who are speculating  on the price of a non-commodity and raking in the profits at the expense of our merchant refiners’ bottom line. The fluctuating price deters those affected refineries from budgeting for RIN costs, and it directs money away from needed expenditures, such as maintenance and equipment improvements.  The RIN price has  decreased because of the recent discussions  on setting a price cap, but until  this is achieved, these merchant refineries operate at the mercy of an uncontrolled market. 

Exciting and challenging times are ahead for our industry.  Companies mostly have enjoyed a profitable year, and the change in tax status should add to their income.  We look forward to sharing  these profits and working with our employers to maintain production at optimum levels in a safe and reliable manner.  Our operators and maintenance personnel are the most dependable and highest trained workforce in the industry, and we take pride in our jobs. 

As summer gets closer and our thoughts turn to vacations and more time with our families and friends, we cannot lose sight of our everyday activities.  We  must  focus at work and  do our jobs like our lives depend on it, because they do. 

I look forward to seeing those of you attending the USW Health, Safety & Environment conference and USW Triangle of Prevention (TOP) meeting in Pittsburgh next week.

In Solidarity,

Kim Nibarger
NOBP Chair
knibarger@usw.org
(Office) 412-562-2403

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