There’s no denying an oilfield can be a very dangerous work environment. Heavy machinery is around every corner, the substances being extracted are highly volatile and it’s physically demanding work.
At Heshka Oil safety is our top priority. We understand that companies and their employees count on our oilfield equipment to get the job done safely. But that’s only one piece to a very large puzzle.
Each company has its own safety protocols and policies, however the best practices below are recommended on any oil rig.
Keep Oilfield Equipment Maintained
When you see oilfield equipment for sale, build quality is the top priority. But maintenance needs should be a close second.
Maintenance is a huge issue out in the oilfield. One small bolt can be enough to shut down an entire operation. Poorly maintained oil and gas equipment is also a serious safety hazard.
An updated maintenance schedule that’s shared by key personnel can help ensure that regular maintenance isn’t missed. Track when maintenance is performed and who performed the work. Should equipment malfunction, the maintenance log can also help you identify the problem.
Zero-Tolerance Policy on Protective Gear
Employees should be made aware there is a zero-tolerance policy for misusing or failing to wear proper protective gear. Provide employees with a written safety policy that clearly states which protective gear should be worn and when. That also means the oil company has to either verify that employees have acceptable gear or provide it for them.
Make sure to include vehicle safety. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that 4 out of 10 deaths on the job among oil and gas employees is a result of a vehicular accident. Employees should be required to wear safety belts while in work vehicles and driving on the work site.
Clearly Delineate Danger Zones
Once of the easiest ways to improve on-site safety is designating areas for a specific activity and clearly marking zones. Smoking is the perfect example. One cigarette is all it takes to create an explosion when so many flammable fumes are in the air. The smoking area should be far away from any oil and gas equipment and marked with signs that clearly state no smoking beyond a certain point.
As you configure the work zones of your oilfield you’ll also want to pay careful attention to the proximity of oilfield equipment. Spark-producing tools and equipment used for hot work should be far away from gas sources and combustible materials. In addition, signage should be used throughout the oilfield to let employees know what hazards to watch out for.
Take Precautions to Prevent Falls
Some oilfield workers find themselves well above the ground while on the job. Not surprisingly, falls are among the top causes of oilfield injuries and deaths. They’re also some of the most preventable injuries. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends the following fall prevention measures be taken:
- Cover all floor holes that an employee could fall through.
- Open-sided platforms, staircases, runways, etc. should have a guardrail and toe-board installed.
- Falls over heavy machinery can be dangerous even at a short distance. Guardrails should be used around all oil and gas equipment that a person could fall into.
- Employees going higher than eight feet should be equipped with safety harnesses, nets and lines.
- Make sure the flooring of platforms, staircases and overhead runways is kept clean to prevent trips and slips.
These are just a few of the many safety concerns associated with oilfields. OSHA offers additional guidance on safety for oil and gas extraction. When in doubt, reference the OSHA standards to make sure your site is safe for workers.