Safety at work is the condition of being protected from or unlikely to cause danger, risk, or injury. It is a personal responsibility first and foremost, responsibilities, safety can be rewarding as you are sure to return safely to your family at the completion of work. Safety could be considered by some as a hassle because it takes up time, you go to meetings, get trained, undergo behavior-based observations, report hazardous conditions, incidents and close calls, make suggestions etc.
Working in the oilfields isn’t just one of the dirtiest jobs; it’s also one of the deadliest. Oil rig safety remains a hot topic and is continuously evolving and emphasized as accidents could be catastrophic leading to severe fatalities and substantial investment loss. Workers face more risks on an oil rig than in most other places in the field. The constant pressure of efficient productivity due to the high cost of drilling projects, time away from home, long work days, and high physical demands takes a hefty toll on workers. These factors can ultimately affect worker safety by causing an increase in human errors including misuse of equipment and inconsistent procedures that can lead to higher chance of accidents. Working and keeping oneself safe also keeps colleagues safe.
This post will be identifying the top oil rig hazards and precautions needed to be observed to avoid them:
- Keep Work Surfaces Slip Proof– Wiping down the rig is not rocket science, but it also is not fun, and workers will often neglect the job if they’re given a chance to. Sturdy, waterproof boots will only go so far if the surfaces you’re walking on are disasters waiting to happen. Except for storms or rains, there’s no reason why work surfaces should be wet during daily operations. This is an especially big challenge, considering that you’re surrounded by nothing but water, still, keeping work surfaces dry and slip-proof is not only manageable, but actually very easy. Most, if not all oil rigs are constructed with mainly steel and/or concrete, both materials are easily prone to slip. Slip accidents can be prevented here by workers making use of rubber boots, those with rough soles will provide more protection in this case. In the case where the floors of the rig are concrete, there are two ways to create slip-resistant surfaces: texture the concrete itself (typically with a broom during construction) or apply some sort of gritty material to the surface. There are several ways to accomplish the later: mix a gritty material into the sealer before it’s applied, put down a textured overlay, or apply a gritty faced tape to the surface. For metal/steel rig floors, a 2 component anti-slip metal paint system containing anti slip grit which results in a rough texture on the surface can be used. An anti-slip additive which refers to grit which can also be added into a paint resulting in a rougher surface structure, these additives can be combined with almost any kind of paint, providing one with the freedom of coating choice.
- Wear Fall Protection– Oil workers often have to climb elevated equipment like drilling and service rigs. These employees face the greatest risk of taking a fall. Derrickhands, in particular, need to be aware of the specific fall hazards that they encounter. Fall arrest systems aren’t foolproof, however. Faulty or misused fall harnesses can be just as dangerous as no fall protection at all. But knowing what to look for when inspecting a fall arrest system, and how to properly strap on a harness, can save your life. It must point out here that simply wearing your harness does not save you from falling; on the contrary, it poses a higher risk than just falling when it is worn wrong as it may cause even more injuries. Therefore, opt for a full body harness, inspect and adjust, and be sure your lanyard is attached to the D-ring on your fall arrest harness at one end and is attached securely to an approved anchor point at the other end. Remember that a guard rail is NOT an anchor point.
- Watch out for Struck by Hazard– Being struck by an object is one of the leading causes of construction-related deaths for instance. Struck by hazards are categorized by: flying object, falling object, swinging object or rolling object. When working on an oil rig, workers should take extra precautions to prevent their tools and other objects from falling down to lower levels. Also awareness of your surroundings and proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) can go a long way in avoiding injuries while working. It is important for rig workers to be aware of areas where there is greater potential for struck-by accidents to occur and to limit going to those areas and when they must do so ensure that they have their helmets on.
- Protect the Machines– Maintaining and protecting your machines involves functional checks, servicing, repairing or replacing of necessary devices, equipment, machinery, and supporting utilities in other for activities to run smoothly and prevent accidents. When working on offshore rigs, the machines are your lifeline when you are hundreds of miles from shore and aside from your colleagues, machines are your best friends, if you treat them badly, they will treat you badly in return. Machines are often very temperamental. Accidents and injuries that result from the improper handling or maintenance of energized or mechanical equipment can be reduced via proper training and regular checkups and maintenance.
- Careful with Flammable Objects– Drilling for oil is a dangerous job where a lot could go wrong. One of the more serious risks of the industry is the potential for fires and explosions. So, how can you prevent fires from happening? By recognizing and understanding the hazards associated with hot works like welding, cutting, brazing, and grinding. Familiarize yourself with locations that may constitute a source of fuel for fires like storage areas of equipment, storage of lube oil and fuels, electrical equipment, areas where rig personnel may congregate, change room, living and office quarters are often where a fire is likely to start. Wearing fire resistant clothing will also go a long way if by chance a fire breaks out. Oil rig workers must familiarize themselves with the location of all fire extinguishing equipment on the rig. Know what class of fires each is rated for, and if an extinguisher is missing, get it replaced IMMEDIATELY.
- Emergency Response Plan– Every oil rig must have a well detailed, functioning ERP. You should develop a plan based on the workflow on the rig, which will differ depending on the group, the rig, and even the weather. Develop a relationship with local emergency response organizations and establish a consistent flow of communication to provide a higher level of overall safety. Emergency responders, rig hands, and exploration company safety and health professionals must work together to utilize their resources to be ready to handle emergencies swiftly and successfully and always participate in safety drills.
- PAY ATTENTION during Safety Inductions and Trainings– Last but by no means the least is the need to pay serious and undivided attention during safety inductions and the several scheduled safety trainings while on the rig. The human tendency to think that one has heard it all especially for returning workers is a fatal mistake. The idea of training for emergencies is to ingrain the drills into ones subconscious as it the subconscious that takes over your actions in case of an emergency. The more you listen and pay attention the more your subconscious takes in and it could just be what saves you in the event of an accident or emergency.
Anyone working on an oil rig, from roustabouts to drillers, should be keenly aware of the dangers of their job — as well as the simple safety precautions that could help prevent an accident. Hundreds of major accidents occur on oil rigs each year, and though some never make it into the headlines, the men working on the rigs will never forget them. Accidents will happen on an oil rig, but there are a number of health and safety protocols in place to prevent them from escalating into disasters and fatalities. Everybody will need to pull in the same direction to ensure this is the case. Hundreds of workers are employed on offshore oil rigs, and like any good organization, every person plays their part to the best of their ability to prevent any serious health and safety errors. ALL GUARDS MUST BE UP!
EVERYONE WITHOUT EXCEPTION ON AN OIL INSTALLATION HAS SAFETY RESPONSIBILITIES FOR HIMSELF AND OTHERS AND IF EVERYONE PLAYS THEIR PART AS IN A TEAM, EVERYONE GETS TO GO HOME TO THEIR FAMILIES, ONE PERSON DROPS THE BALL AND EVERYONE COULD BE AT RISK OF NEVER GETTING BACK TO THEIR FAMILIES!