The oil and gas industry contains some of the most dangerous jobs in the world, with a contractor fatality rate that is statistically higher than all other industries. If you work within the oil and gas industry, following proper safety practices can mean the difference between life and death. Before you can employ thorough safety protocols in your worksites, however, you first need to know the dangers within the oil and gas industry. Here is a list of the most common causes of injury:
- Explosions and fires
There is a high risk of explosion or fire due to the flammability of oil and certain gases (such as hydrogen sulfide). Dangerous materials can leak from trucks or wells and be ignited by open flames, cigarettes, welding equipment, and electrical circuits.
- Vehicle collisions
Most worksites for the oil and gas industry are extremely remote. Therefore, various vehicles are used to transport workers and equipment to and from these worksites. Vehicle collisions are responsible for approximately 4 out of 10 deaths within the oil and gas industry, making transportation the most hazardous activity for oil and gas workers.
Falls are a common risk for any contractor, but they can be especially dangerous in this industry due to the height of drill rig systems and scaffolding.
- Confined spaces
Workers in the oil and gas industry commonly enter confined spaces (such as petroleum storage tanks, reserve pits, and mud pits) to perform various tasks. Within these confined spaces, however, workers risk gas explosions and entrapment due to structural collapse. Additionally, confined spaces may expose workers to hazardous chemicals.
- Struck by/Caught in/Between
Struck by/Caught in/Between accidents are very dangerous, accounting for approximately 3 out of 5 on-site fatalities in the oil and gas extraction industry. Examples of struck by/Caught in/Between accidents include: limbs pulled into unguarded machinery, collapsing materials, and being pinned between vehicles and environmental fixtures.
- Machine hazards
When machinery is being used by an untrained or inattentive worker, the results can be fatal. In addition, all machinery must be properly monitored and maintained to avoid malfunctions.
- Electric hazards
Workers can be injured by shock or electrical fire if the onsite equipment is not properly installed, designed, or maintained.
If coworkers are not properly communicating, then there is always an increased risk of injury. By implementing proper safety programs and outlining a plan before the workday begins, you can ensure efficiency and a clear understanding of how, when, and where tasks will be accomplished.
Which Safety Programs Do Oil and Gas Companies Need?
Due to all of the above hazards, contractors in the oil and gas industry must be protected by detailed safety programs. There are many safety programs that your company will need to achieve industrial compliance in this industry, including:
- Scaffold User Training
- Fall Protection Awareness
- Air Monitoring and Gas Detection
- Fire Protection
- Fire Prevention
- Confined Space Training
- First Aid/CPR/AED
- Drill Rig Safety
- Vehicle Safety
- PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) Use and Training
At Industrial Compliance & Safety, our professional team can help your oil and gas company become certified by a variety of prequalification services, including ISNetworld® and Avetta®. If you choose to work with our team of safety compliance consultants, we will write custom safety programs that both satisfy your client’s needs and protect your employees from the many risks within this unique industry.
Warning Signs to Change Your Safety Practices
If you have failed the process of compliance certification, check your gap report to see if your safety programs affected your grade. If you lost points in this area, then you are failing to meet either national or client-specific safety standards. Most companies do not formally write their safety programs before applying for certification, but they should. Even if your company has a decent track record, documenting your safety programs ensures that all employees are on the same page, and it helps you communicate your on-site practices to potential clients.
If you have passed certification, you may still want to think about improving your safety programs after an employee injury. To prevent future problems, you should look at every incident as something that could have been prevented with better safety programs. It is so easy for one incident to become a pattern if you don’t pay close attention. Make sure you keep detailed records of OSHA-recordable incidents and routinely schedule employee training so that everyone remembers to work with safety at the front of their minds.