Oil and Gas
Oil and Gas
The oil and gas industry is potentially one of the most hazardous industry sectors in the United States. However, it also has one of the most thorough safety programs. The combination of powerful equipment, flammable chemicals, and processes under high pressure can lead to hazardous or deadly incidents. That’s why it’s essential for safety managers and supervisors to identify and communicate recommended safety controls. They must also communicate any hazards that exist on each work site before work begins.
Workers in the oil and gas extraction industry are at the highest risk of injuries and fatalities on the job, compared to all other industries in the United States. The most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2015) revealed that out of 120 workplace deaths in the mining, oil, and gas extraction industry, 74 of them occurred within the support activities for oil and gas operations (NAICS 213112).
Oil and gas workers are under constant pressure. They must have efficient productivity due to the high cost of drilling projects. The time away from home, long work days, and high physical demands takes a hefty toll on workers as well. These factors can ultimately affect worker safety by causing an increase in human error. This can include misuse of equipment and inconsistent procedures that can lead to a higher chance of accidents.
Safety Hazards Associated with Oil and Gas Extraction Activities
Oil and gas well drilling and servicing involves many different types of equipment and materials. Recognizing and controlling hazards is critical to prevent injuries and deaths.
Know the hazards. Evaluate the hazards at the work site. Many companies within the oil and gas industry use the Job Safety Analysis Process (also referred to as a JSA, Job Hazard Analysis, or JHA) to find hazards and solutions.
Explosions and Fires
Workers in the oil and gas industries face the risk of fire and explosion due to flammable vapors or gases. Flammable gases, such as well gases, vapors, and hydrogen sulfide, can be released from equipment. This includes wells, trucks, production equipment or surface equipment such as tanks and shale shakers. Ignition sources can include static, electrical energy sources, open flames, lightning, cigarettes, cutting and welding tools, and frictional heat.
Workers might be required to access platforms and equipment located high above the ground. OSHA requires fall protection to prevent falls from the mast, drilling platform, and other elevated equipment.
Workers are often required to enter confined spaces such as petroleum and other storage tanks, mud pits, reserve pits and other excavated areas, storage containers, and other confined spaces around a wellhead. Safety hazards associated with confined space include ignition of flammable vapors or gases. Health hazards include asphyxiation and exposure to hazardous chemicals. Confined spaces that contain or have the potential to contain a serious atmospheric hazard must be classified as permit-required confined spaces, tested prior to entry, and continuously monitored
Oil and gas workers risk exposure to ergonomic-related injury risks. These can include lifting heavy items, bending, reaching overhead, pushing and pulling heavy loads, working in awkward body postures, and doing the same or similar tasks over and over. You can minimize risk factors and the resulting injuries or, in many cases, you can eliminate them. You do this with interventions, such as pre-task planning, use of the right tools, proper placement of materials, education of workers about the risk, and early recognition and reporting of injury signs and symptoms
High-Pressure Lines and Equipment
Workers risk exposure to hazards from compressed gases or from high-pressure lines. Internal erosion of lines might result in leaks or line bursts. This can expose workers to high-pressure hazards from compressed gases or from the lines. If connections securing those lines fail, the results can be dangerous or even deadly.
Oil and gas extraction workers may be exposed to a wide variety of rotating wellhead equipment, including top drives and Kelly drives, draw works, pumps, compressors, catheads, hoist blocks, belt wheels, and conveyors. They might be injured if they are struck by or caught between machines.