All workers within 75 feet of an oil or natural gas well bore in Wyoming must now be clad in fire-resistant clothing under new state rules.

The Wyoming Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Monday it is implementing the new rule, first approved by the governor-appointed Wyoming Occupational Safety and Health Commission in October.

The commission at the same meeting approved a rule mandating shutoff devices on diesel engines used on drilling rigs. Gov. Matt Mead signed both proposals into effect Jan. 8.

The state’s oil and gas industry group lauded the decision.

“As an industry, we were pleased to help work on those rules and we’re pleased to see them being implemented,” said John Robitaille, vice president of the Wyoming Petroleum Association. “We hope they do what they’re intended to do and save people from getting hurt in the jobs that they do.”

The commission approved both rules in October, but its rule making mandatory use of fire-resistant clothing near wells rubbed some the wrong way.

Smaller oil and gas and wellfield services companies complained that the clothes were too expensive to mandate. Anadarko Petroleum Co., a major oil and gas producer in Wyoming, also said the clothing would only protect workers from flash fires.

Many larger companies required the clothing before it became mandatory.

Reach energy reporter Adam Voge at 307-266-0561, or at adam.voge@trib.com. Read his blog at http://trib.com/news/opinion/blogs/boom or follow him on Twitter @vogeCST.

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