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Overcoming Job Hazards in Oil and Gas

Oct 28, 2013

With almost half a million workers employed in the oil and gas extraction and support industries, keeping employees safe is top priority for every energy company.

Safety and health hazards can be avoided with proper training and protocols, but when these aren’t in place, fatalities can occur. Common, serious hazards include vehicle accidents, machinery accidents, explosions or fires, and chemical exposure.

Vehicle Accidents

Having motor safety programs in place is essential for oil and gas companies, especially those who have a large workforce driving trucks and larger vehicles. Make sure your company implements and respects basic safety rules like these:

  • Limit consecutive driving hours - Many workers drive long distances and hours, causing fatigue and slowed reflexes. Limiting the number of consecutive allowable hours helps reduce the risk of accidents.

  • Give extensive safety education – It can be hard to monitor safety measures taken in the cab. For instance in North Dakota, a region experiencing a shale boom right now, there are no laws allowing police to stop drivers if they are suspected of not wearing a seatbelt. For this reason, it is your job to make sure all drivers are trained in expected safety protocol.

  • Implement hazardous condition protocols – Have regular, weather-specific training for drivers and don’t insist on a timeline if inclement weather has slowed them down. Trying to “make up for lost time” often leads to other losses.

Machinery Accidents

Machines required to perform even the most advanced tasks usually aren’t operated by themselves, but it’s hardly ideal to have a human around if heavy equipment goes on the fritz. Large-scale machines require skilled employees who know how to use them in a safe manner, as well as these safeguards:

  • Shortcuts are never allowed – Time is money except when it comes to safety. Efforts to save time should focus on working more efficiently or improving the machinery itself instead.

  • Plan every step of a procedure – This is especially true for veterans of the job, who may go on auto-pilot for procedures with which they’re highly experienced. When operators don’t think ahead, they increase the risk of not doing the job correctly and injuring themselves or others.

  • Keep up with maintenance – Perhaps one of the best ways to reduce and prevent machinery accidents is by maintaining a strict maintenance schedule and updating equipment when it starts requiring an increased number of repairs. inspHire’s rental software will help you monitor the lifespan and check-up schedule of every piece of equipment you use.

Explosions and Fires

When dealing with highly combustible and flammable materials, there is a greater chance of danger. Sometimes these events come without warning and are difficult to prevent. When it comes to preventing these dangers, plan to go “all out.”

  • Have a detailed fire-fighting plan – Every person on site should know the plan. Have equipment and suppression agents ready, and response teams on-call in case of an emergency.

  • Position machinery – Each machine should be positioned in a way that will help in extinguish a fire and not hinder it.

  • Perform regular inspections - Oil and gas sites are particularly susceptible to fatal fires and explosions and must be self-inspected regularly to ensure compliance with safety standards.

  • Insist on the essentials – Workers and guests should wear the proper flame-retardant gear at all times, no exceptions.

  • Place control rooms in safe zones – Make sure essential controls are located as far as possible from the riskiest areas, such as wellbores or chemical containers.

Chemical Exposure

Preventing injuries from chemical exposure means reducing to the lowest possible level the amount of hazardous chemicals that can come into contact with workers. Here are a few ways to reduce your risk of chemical exposure:

  • As many shields as necessary – Ample distance and/or shielding should come between workers and harmful chemicals.

  • Ventilation - Provide general or local ventilation to remove or reduce the concentration of airborne contaminants such as fumes, gases and vapors. Remember, when it comes to worker safety, top-of-the-line equipment is recommended.

  • Personal equipment - Use clothing or equipment to prevent exposure like specialized masks, eyewear, gloves and suits.

  • Perform regular inspections – Make air quality self-inspections standard around the workplace. Aim for conditions that exceed OSHA’s respiratory guidelines.

The first line of defense when it comes to reducing the hazards associated with the oil and gas industry is teaching employees the right way to complete their tasks. However, having software to organize and monitor training can also greatly diminish on-the-job hazards. Contact inspHire today and learn how our software can reduce risks for your company

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