As the oil and gas industry continues to evolve, so does the exposures. From drilling to manufacturing, unique risks are present at every stage of the process. Oilfield jobs are the dirtiest and the deadliest. Oilfield safety is a hot topic due to dreadful financial losses and fatal injuries. Oil rig workers have more risks than other oilfield occupations. A combination of productivity requirements, long work hours, time away from home, and the physical demands of the job, can negatively impact workers. They also affect worker safety, resulting in the misuse of equipment and an increase in accidents.
Because giant mechanisms help to keep massive rigs afloat along with the physical friction of ocean floor drilling, some exposures can have deadly consequences. The most severe threat to any oilfield is the possibility of an oil rig explosion. However, many safety measures exist to minimize an explosion, such as blowout preventers to stabilize pressure fluctuations. Although mechanical safety mechanisms help, safety managers, supervisors and crewmembers can have the greatest impact by having a safety-first work culture.
Frequently Inspect Regularly Used Equipment
The most straightforward approach to minimizing risks is making sure machines and safety equipment are properly maintained and in optimal working conditions. Small mechanical failures like a malfunctioning pressure gauge or loose bolts can create a major disaster. The salty ocean waters and repetitive motion can degrade equipment; therefore, regular inspections can prevent a million-dollar disaster.
Examine Volatile Substances & Ignition Sources
Because of the flammable vapors, fire explosions are the deadliest risk oilfield workers face. There is a constant flow of combustible gases arising from production equipment, surface equipment, and wells. Safety managers should carefully canvass the area of ignition sources like open flames, electrical energy, welding tools, frictional heat, and static electricity. Ignition sources are often the cause of oilfield explosions. Therefore, appropriate measures must be taken to minimize their exposure to volatile substances and flammable vapors.
Decrease or Eliminate Chemical Exposures
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Oil and Gas Safety Program wants to reduce hazardous exposure through education and awareness. NIOSH has reported the release of ultrafine particles during heavy pumping, like hydraulic fracturing. Naturally occurring radioactive material, hydrogen sulfide, hydrocarbon gases, and vapors can adversely affect human health. Frequent breathing of these chemicals can impact the respiratory and neurological system. As a result, the United States Department of Labor offers information for steps safety managers, supervisors, and oilfield workers can take to minimize or eliminate exposure to these chemicals.
In closing, the working environment of an offshore oilfield presents significant risks that affects the safety and lives of its workers. By taking steps to reduce risks and exposure, management can decrease fatal and nonfatal occupational injuries. Planning and prevention are essential in protecting oil and gas workers. The first step is recognizing a potential hazard and taking steps to reduce its impact. The biggest threats to oil and gas safety are human error, recklessness, negligence, miscommunication, failure to use protective equipment, and misuse of equipment. By tackling these threats, safety managers will see a decline in work-related injuries.