The oil and gas industry has survived a few tough years with weak demands and low prices. They were hit particularly hard in 2014 when global overproduction of oil was one of the leading contributors to the extreme plummet.
In an article published in CNN Money
, American multinational finance company, Goldman Sachs said he predicts that the U.S. oil and gas industry will need to add 80,000 to 100,000 jobs between now and the end of 2018. The debilitating three year down spiral is finally over.
Oil jobs are making a major comeback! That’s why it’s critical we talk about ways to keep them safe.
There’s no doubt that drilling for oil is a dangerous job. Accidents can quickly occur – especially fires and explosions. It's important to recognize and understand the hazards associated with hot work on oilfield tanks, tankers, and other related equipment.
Roughnecks are engaged in diverse industrial processes to drill and service a well. They work with specialized equipment while dealing with distinct safety and health hazards that could result in fatalities.
Between 2003 and 2013, the number of work-related fatalities in the oil and gas extraction industry increased 27.6%, with a total of 1,189 deaths, per the Center for Disease Control (CDC)
- Vehicle accidents
- Explosions and fires
- Confined spaces
- Chemical exposures
OSHA has partnered with the National STEPS Network
to help prevent serious injuries – even death – from occurring at oil and gas well sites.
Vehicles and motorized equipment present an ignition hazard if located too close to the wellbore or other potential flammable vapor sources – such as, flow back tanks, frac tanks, and production tanks.
When flammable vapors or gases are released, engines and motors can ignite the vapors and cause fires and explosions.
Investigations by OSHA and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB)
document a history of fires and explosions at workplaces – such as oilfields and refineries. Workers described experiencing dizziness, fainting, headache, nausea, and, in some cases, death while gauging tanks, collecting samples, or transferring fluids.
Understanding specific hazards and steps to protect yourself and others is critical to eliminate dangerous situations from occurring.
What can you do to protect workers, as noted by OSHA and STEPS:
- Conduct a fire risk assessment at the worksite
- Train workers to know when an engine “over revs” or starts “running away,” causing a gas/vapor cloud
- Test the area for a potential source of ‘release’ as they relate to on-site ignition sources
- Establish acceptable locations, restrictions, and entry routes for vehicles and motorized equipment, including contractors’ equipment
- Ensure that the location of all vehicles/motorized equipment is within the established areas, boundaries, and entry routes
- Develop a Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) that includes fire risk hazards
- Review the JHA, fire prevention plans, and emergency evacuation procedures at daily shift meetings.
- Use required PPE, gas detection devices (personal), and be mindful of all alarms
- Follow employers’ safe work practices and procedures
- Remove other potential ignition sources from the hazard zone – such as static, cell phones, open flames, cigarettes, sparks from tools or metal objects, etc.
With the oil and gas industry booming again, let’s work together to ensure workers are safe and informed about potential hazards. And remember, if you are not sure, follow STEPS advice and stop the job and ask if it’s safe. Everyone has the right to stop work that is unsafe.
Accuform has the signs, labels, tags, lockout devices, and more to protect workers from dangerous accidents at oil and well sites!