Occupational Safety in the Oil and Gas Industry


July, 2016

Oil and Gas

Updated February, 2019

Some positions in the oil and gas industry are considered very dangerous, and even mild day-to-day jobs can yield injuries. However, with proper measures in place, workers in this industry can be much safer.

A few common injuries within this field are vehicular, chemical or welding, flash burn, and what the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) calls “struck-by” injuries. According to OSHA, a struck-by injury occurs when an object forcibly strikes and causes injury to a worker. With regards to oil and gas workers, some of the most common struck-by injuries are caused by sling failures, bad connections, and unsecured pressurized lines.

To reduce the risk of a struck-by injury, properly-secured lines and connections are crucial to safety on a rig and should be checked often. Pressurized lines should be equipped with whip checks for restraint in case of failure, and each line should be monitored to ensure it stays at the proper working pressure. In addition, all lines and valves should be checked and pressure-tested after any maintenance. Slings need to be inspected regularly for wear, and stored away from damaging elements such as heat or sunlight.

Occupational Safety in the Oil and Gas Industry

Chemicals are dangerous and should always be handled by personnel who are properly trained to do so. Even mild chemicals must be handled with care. Exposure to other surfaces, chemicals, or gases or contact with skin could cause injuries or major hazards. All workplaces that utilize chemicals should be equipped with a way to remove chemicals from eyes or skin, and personnel who work with or around chemicals should bring a change of clothes to work in case of an accidental spill. If a spill happens, it needs to be cleaned up right away, and all chemicals must be stored appropriately after use.

When handling chemicals or welding equipment, Personal Protective Equipment, commonly known as PPE, is crucial. Where welding is concerned, PPE can help prevent serious injury, including flash burn. Flash burn is essentially a sunburn on the eye. Correct welding hoods, lenses, and gloves, and appropriate PPE for corresponding chemicals, can seriously protect workers and the companies they work for from major harm.

Vehicular accidents are common in and out of the workplace. Though existing laws help ensure safety during travel, there are enough hazards to still present danger, and employers can take extra measures to help their workers stay safe on the road. Doing so will also protect the company from being held liable in certain situations.

Driver programs can ensure that each vehicle the company uses is fit to drive and that each driver is fit to drive them. Companies can go the extra mile by installing devices to inhibit non-emergency cell phone use while driving, and find other ways to reduce distractions. Further, a company should never mandate, encourage, or pressure a driving employee to continue driving while he or she is feeling fatigued or otherwise impaired, and should impose safety regulations on each driver.

OSHA is dedicated to setting standards that keep workers safe on the job, but that is something that companies and workers themselves can do on their own. Taking a moment to ensure that all needed equipment is functioning properly and that the workers are fit to work and properly protected while doing so can save the workers from harm, and the companies from serious liability issues. Companies and workers involved should hold themselves and each other responsible to ensure that the workplace is a safe place to work.

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