The oil and gas industry includes some of the most dangerous worksites in the world. The fatality rate is over seven-times the national workplace average1. These injuries happen beyond the drilling sites, extending to midstream and downstream worksites.
Last time, we discussed hand safety tips. Today, we’re looking beyond hand safety to discuss workplace safety as a whole. Whether your organization has suffered some setbacks, or you’re looking to avoid injuries yourself, here are 10 ways to improve safety in the oilfield.
Tip 1: Choose the Right Glove
If the leading reportable incidents are caused by hand/finger injuries, we should start here.
According to BLS.gov, 70 percent of workplace injuries are caused by not wearing any type of hand protection1. Usually, workers remove gloves that limit their dexterity or performance. It’s not hard to see why – employees are on a tight schedule, and gloves that get in the way of work are not helping.
But glove technology has evolved. Today, we don’t have to choose between protection and comfort, or dexterity and durability. You can get the best of both worlds by choosing a glove built for oilfield needs – like improved grip – and the risks you’ll be facing – such as impact or cut injuries.
The ANSI & CE cut ratings have changed - see everything you need to know in our blog.
Tip 2: Comfort is Crucial
Often, the one purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE) is not the one wearing it. If this is the case, it’s important to remember that employees are people – not machines. Comfort is crucial, especially when working all day – and studies show workers won’t wear uncomfortable gloves all day long. And once gloves are removed, they’re open to injury.
Safety gloves must be comfortable enough to wear all day, provide protection for on-site risks – like chemical or cut exposure – and offer the dexterity needed to perform the task at hand.
But what else is important in an oil and gas glove? We made a free brochure to help you ask the right questions and find the right glove for you.
Tip 3: Know Your Worksite
Familiarity shouldn’t be forgotten. Be sure everyone on the worksite knows their role, potential hazards, and the company’s safety precautions – and that includes PPE purchasers.
Visit the worksite, study the environment, and conduct a hand safety site analysis. This focuses your perspective, revealing hand and finger hazards. After you learn the risks (cuts, chemicals, impacts) and requirements of the job (grip, dexterity), you can select the best glove for the task at hand.Here’s the type of hand and finger hazards you should consider:
- What are the risks? Are workers facing blunt-force impacts, abrasions, crushes, and pinching injures?
- What’s the weather? Will cold or wet/oily surfaces be a factor on productivity?
- Possible cuts and lacerations? What level of cut protection is required for your industry?
Tip 4: Keep it Clean
A little house keeping never hurts. By keeping floors, equipment, and other work areas clean and free of loose items, you can prevent trips, falls, and struck-by hazards. Invest in spill kits and place clear signage for other safety and emergency equipment so workers can address hazards as quickly as possible.
Use the info gained from hand safety site analysis to identify pinch points and other hand-hazards. Visual clarity is key, so paint hazards a bright color or use stickers or signage to highlight pinch points. This helps workers avoid dangerous areas and reduces reportable incidents.
Tip 5: Ban Tools
Some tools are too dangerous for the oilfield. These tools, like adjustable wrenches, often slip, leading to hand and finger injuries. In fact, all tools should be selected with a careful eye to avoid costly injuries. This means more than using the right tools for the job, but using the right tool in the right way. Be sure to inspect tools regularly and use protective guards on equipment, when possible.
Want tips specifically for hand safety? Check out our hand safety tips blog!
Tip 6: No Jewelry
Much like banning tools, you should ban the wearing of jewelry in the oilfield. Each year, thousands are injured when a ring, bracelet, or necklace is caught in equipment or pinch points. It’s a simple tip, but banning jewelry is a quick and easy way to prevent injuries and improve your safety record.
Tip 7: Communication is Key
If data doesn’t reveal underlying causes for injuries, ask other employees. After all, the people working an oil rig day after day may be the most familiar with the worksite.
Safety inspections on oil rigs will include workplace representatives, so knowing your workforce’s thoughts will help you better understand the risks. Workers can also share where they feel uncomfortable at work, which can inform other opportunities for process and safety improvements. They might even have their own ideas for reducing reportable incidents – so don’t be afraid to open a dialogue.
Tip 8: Locate Underlying Causes
The previous tip introduced is a quick fix. If you’re searching to improve safety records over the long term, you should look for the underlying causes of injuries in the oilfield. And this is where injury data is invaluable.
Review your organization’s reportable incidents and the causes. You’ll likely see a recurring trend – you might find a high rate of pinch injuries or struck-by hazards. Spot the trends, then ask yourself how you can reduce these injuries. Are employees up-to-date on safety procedures? Would new communication systems reduce risk? Once you know the underlying cause, you can customize training programs and make any necessary adjustments to the system to best address your safety record.
Tip 9: Reward Employees for Safe Behaviors
Everyone likes acknowledgement. Rewards can be an easy and effective way to encourage workplace safety. Not only is this a small investment (compared to direct and indirect costs of injuries), but behavior-based rewards keeps employees engaged, which can make a world of difference in reducing injuries in the oilfield.
Tip 10: Digital CommunicationsIf you’re really serious about oilfield safety, you might consider upgrading digital communications. These systems or installations can limit emergency response activation times to as little as four minutes. Digital communication systems offer a variety of safety-enhancing services:
- Remote terminal management so the workforce can control equipment from safe distances
- Two-way communication for push-to-talk features
- Automated notifications to immediately inform on-site and off-site workers of potential events
There you go – now go put these oilfield safety tips into action! If you’re searching for more tips, safety statistics, or help in choosing the right oil & gas glove, look no further – we made a brochure just for you.
1 - Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012: https://www.bls.gov/