Oil Field Dangers
Oilfield work is extremely dangerous. Workers risk their lives daily to manage the standard order of operations on the ground. Each one can lead to serious, catastrophic, and fatal injuries. Because oil and gas well drilling and services involve many types of equipment and materials, operators need to be aware of the four common dangers of working in an oil field.
OSHA reports about 40 percent of oil and gas workers are killed on the job due to vehicle accidents. Vehicles transport workers and equipment to and from the well sites. Because of the location of the wells, it often requires traveling long distances. Accidents happen far too often in these remote locations.
Because oil workers tend to have long shifts and unpredictable schedules they’re often fatigued on the job. Their tired state combined with operating motor vehicles results in a high number of vehicle collisions. Workers need to get a minimum of eight hours of sleep and communicate with their superiors if they are suffering from fatigue.
Crush and contact injuries are common in the oil and gas industry. Being struck by, caught in, or caught between, the equipment on the site happens far too often. Moving vehicles, high-pressure hoses, overhead cranes and cables, or other heavy equipment are typically the cause of these accidents.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s standards require oilfield workers to wear the following:
- Eye and face protection
- Head protection
- Foot protection
- Hand protection
Workers are not permitted on the field if they are not wearing the proper protective gear. All operators need to follow specific guidelines and instructions for handling equipment and machinery. Managers should require their workers to read, study, and follow the relevant industry practice documents.
Fires and Explosions
The ignition of flammable vapors and gases causes fires and explosions. However, the risks of fires and explosions increase when employers fail to control fire hazards and take necessary steps to keep workers safe. Between the flammable chemicals, crude oil, and natural gases, the industry is a magnet for fires and explosions.
The wells and trucks often release vapor and hydrogen sulfide. All it takes is one small spark to start a fire or explosion. But operators can take certain steps to prevent fires on oilfields. Electrical equipment is another hazard that can lead to fires. Workers also need to watch out for this risk.
Toxic exposures result from contact with a toxic substance during one work shift over time. Petroleum gases, hydrogen sulfide, diesel exhaust, and mercury vapor are some of the most common toxins oilfield workers encounter.
Being exposed to these toxins in confined spaces increases the risk of health damage. Health hazards include asphyxiation and exposure to hazardous chemicals. Workers need to limit their time around these toxins and ensure they wear the proper face and skin coverings during operational hours.
These four common dangers of working in the oil field industry are just a few workers must consider.