Oil and Gas Industry and Its Safety Challenges

Safety has always been a cause for concern in the oil and gas industry. In the year 2013, this sector saw 112 work-related fatalities. This is a significant decrease from the 142 fatalities registered in the year 2012.

The industry works with highly inflammable substances and work sites usually have too many high-energy sources which most of the workers deal with directly or indirectly every day.

In this scenario, it becomes exceedingly important that all the stakeholders and the powers-that-be in the industry make major policy changes and adopt safety-over-profit attitude, especially when it comes to worker safety and the safety of surrounding communities, local economies and the natural environment.

Fire accidents are alarmingly common in the industry. In 2013 only the Fire Department had more fire-related deaths than the oil and gas industry. This when you take into account that 19 fire fighters lost their lives trying to control the wild fires that ravaged Yarnell Hill in Arizona.

Fire and explosions accounted for 13 deaths in the oil industry compared to 42 in firefighting.

How can the oil and gas exploration and extradition industry go about bettering its record?

Study the Causes

The first and foremost action that the industry will have to take is study the causes behind the accidents and deaths and thoroughly analyze the reasons that led to the disaster.

In many cases it is surprisingSafety has always been a cause for concern in the oil and gas industry. In the year 2013, this sector saw 112 work-related fatalities. This is a significant decrease from the 142 fatalities registered in the year 2012.

The industry works with highly inflammable substances and work sites usually have too many high-energy sources which most of the workers deal with directly or indirectly every day.

In this scenario, it becomes exceedingly important that all the stakeholders and the powers-that-be in the industry make major policy changes and adopt safety-over-profit attitude, especially when it comes to worker safety and the safety of surrounding communities, local economies and the natural environment.

Fire accidents are alarmingly common in the industry. In 2013 only the Fire Department had more fire-related deaths than the oil and gas industry. This when you take into account that 19 fire fighters lost their lives trying to control the wild fires that ravaged Yarnell Hill in Arizona.

Fire and explosions accounted for 13 deaths in the oil industry compared to 42 in firefighting.

How can the oil and gas exploration and extradition industry go about bettering its record?

Study the Causes

The first and foremost action that the industry will have to take is study the causes behind the accidents and deaths and thoroughly analyze the reasons that led to the disaster.

In many cases it is surprising to find that workers are not aware of the obvious dangers. In a 2010 incident a worker lost his life trying to thaw a valve on the back of a frack truck. The resulting explosion threw him 75 feet high up in the air and killed him.

But this and many other unsafe practices are quite common in the oil and gas industry. The workers are hardly aware of the effect and magnitude of what they do.

Simple actions like these can result in major disasters that result in heavy loss of life, and irrevocable damage to surrounding infrastructure and environment. This damage becomes compounded when the place of disaster happens to be close to populated neighborhoods, towns and cities.

Oil & Gas Industry: OSHA Regulations





So, safety managers and frontline managers need to be full aware of what can cause an incident. They have to investigate the causes and work out solutions.

There are many roadblocks that safety professionals face while implementing best practices in work sites. Some of them include;

1) Training – Alarmingly, post-incident investigations by OSHA and other external and in-house safety groups show that most safety programs adopted by companies and contractors remain on paper only. The workers involved in accidents and incidents report a severe lack of training in safety procedures and reveal that no structured safety policies or operating procedures were in place at work sites.

This is an open invitation for danger.

Managers must ensure that workers are given consistent training and are always updated on the best safety practices and protocol. In many cases the workers are reluctant to adopt safety precautions because there is production pressure and they feel the regulations inhibit them from performing well.

Incentivizing good safety behavior and proper adherence to safety protocols is one way out. This encourages a greater commitment to safety on the part of the workers. The costs incurred will be negligent as compared to the financial implications of a worker suffering a serious injury or even death. Also workers will report fewer health problems and there will not be major loss of work hours due to sick leaves and hospitalizations.

Properly trained and informed workers will find it easier to adhere to an incentivized safety program. Good training programs also teach workers to use safety equipment and how to react in emergency situations.

Also use any incident on work site as a learning opportunity for workers. In-the-moment teaching delivers home the message effectively. All alarm events need to be communicated to field staff and they should not be kept in the dark.

Other precautions like fire proof walls and gas detectors, and bump testing and calibration should be made mandatory. Fireproofing contractors Anchorage provides good services.

2) Communication – Communication is overwhelmingly important in any workplace, whether it is a corporate office or an oil rig. There should be a free flow of information across all levels and hierarchies in an organization.

Safety managers and frontline managers report that that in many instances, most life-threatening incidents and events are rarely reported. Incidents that pose an imminent threat to a worker's life need to be immediately reported and documented.

This will help in locating danger-prone assets, work groups and individuals. The information will also help detect patterns of incidents and aid the management to take steps to improve workplace safety.

Workers also report that in many cases the hazards and risks they face in the work site are not communicated to them clearly beforehand, and are often made aware only after a life-threatening incident has taken place.

Clear, concise and open communication is extremely necessary to make the workplace a better place.

3) Shift Focus from Bottom-Line - In today's economy, companies are answerable to shareholders, investors and stock markets. They need to maintain profits and record high growth, quarter on quarter.

In the race to clock profits, bag oil and natural gas assets, and be the first one to finish the race worker safety gets compromised. And in almost all cases worker safety is intrinsically linked to the safety and health of communities, localities and states. An oil well explosion can launch metal parts more than 750 away. This can put civilian lives in danger.

Companies need to resist the temptation to hire wrong people for sensitive jobs. They need to invest time and money in training, procure the best in technology, and continue with transparent and effective flow of information throughout the organization. They also have to see to that workers do not compromise on safety to attain production targets.

All stakeholders in the industry including drilling companies, well service contractors, pumping unit service companies, supply companies, safety specialists and contractors, and hundreds of other small and big professional oilfield service companies need to work hand in hand to achieve a fully safe workplace.

Conclusion

The oil and gas industry can truly transform into the safest workplace to work at if all involved put in dedicated efforts. With the government regulations in place and co-operation from regulatory bodies that would not be difficult to achieve.

Oil & Gas Industry OSHA Regulations CD-ROM

to find that workers are not aware of the obvious dangers. In a 2010 incident a worker lost his life trying to thaw a valve on the back of a frack truck. The resulting explosion threw him 75 feet high up in the air and killed him.

But this and many other unsafe practices are quite common in the oil and gas industry. The workers are hardly aware of the effect and magnitude of what they do.

Simple actions like these can result in major disasters that result in heavy loss of life, and irrevocable damage to surrounding infrastructure and environment. This damage becomes compounded when the place of disaster happens to be close to populated neighborhoods, towns and cities.

So, safety managers and frontline managers need to be full aware of what can cause an incident. They have to investigate the causes and work out solutions.

There are many roadblocks that safety professionals face while implementing best practices in work sites. Some of them include;

1) Training – Alarmingly, post-incident investigations by OSHA and other external and in-house safety groups show that most safety programs adopted by companies and contractors remain on paper only. The workers involved in accidents and incidents report a severe lack of training in safety procedures and reveal that no structured safety policies or operating procedures were in place at work sites.

This is an open invitation for danger.

Managers must ensure that workers are given consistent training and are always updated on the best safety practices and protocol. In many cases the workers are reluctant to adopt safety precautions because there is production pressure and they feel the regulations inhibit them from performing well.

Incentivizing good safety behavior and proper adherence to safety protocols is one way out. This encourages a greater commitment to safety on the part of the workers. The costs incurred will be negligent as compared to the financial implications of a worker suffering a serious injury or even death. Also workers will report fewer health problems and there will not be major loss of work hours due to sick leaves and hospitalizations.

Properly trained and informed workers will find it easier to adhere to an incentivized safety program. Good training programs also teach workers to use safety equipment and how to react in emergency situations.

Also use any incident on work site as a learning opportunity for workers. In-the-moment teaching delivers home the message effectively. All alarm events need to be communicated to field staff and they should not be kept in the dark.

Other precautions like fire proof walls and gas detectors, and bump testing and calibration should be made mandatory. Fireproofing contractors Anchorage provides good services.

2) Communication – Communication is overwhelmingly important in any workplace, whether it is a corporate office or an oil rig. There should be a free flow of information across all levels and hierarchies in an organization.

Safety managers and frontline managers report that that in many instances, most life-threatening incidents and events are rarely reported. Incidents that pose an imminent threat to a worker's life need to be immediately reported and documented.

This will help in locating danger-prone assets, work groups and individuals. The information will also help detect patterns of incidents and aid the management to take steps to improve workplace safety.

Workers also report that in many cases the hazards and risks they face in the work site are not communicated to them clearly beforehand, and are often made aware only after a life-threatening incident has taken place.

Clear, concise and open communication is extremely necessary to make the workplace a better place.

3) Shift Focus from Bottom-Line - In today's economy, companies are answerable to shareholders, investors and stock markets. They need to maintain profits and record high growth, quarter on quarter.

In the race to clock profits, bag oil and natural gas assets, and be the first one to finish the race worker safety gets compromised. And in almost all cases worker safety is intrinsically linked to the safety and health of communities, localities and states. An oil well explosion can launch metal parts more than 750 away. This can put civilian lives in danger.

Companies need to resist the temptation to hire wrong people for sensitive jobs. They need to invest time and money in training, procure the best in technology, and continue with transparent and effective flow of information throughout the organization. They also have to see to that workers do not compromise on safety to attain production targets.

All stakeholders in the industry including drilling companies, well service contractors, pumping unit service companies, supply companies, safety specialists and contractors, and hundreds of other small and big professional oilfield service companies need to work hand in hand to achieve a fully safe workplace.

Conclusion

The oil and gas industry can truly transform into the safest workplace to work at if all involved put in dedicated efforts. With the government regulations in place and co-operation from regulatory bodies that would not be difficult to achieve.

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