Oil Industry, Oilfield Injuries

Preventing Oilfield Accidents: What You Can Do

Posted by: Kemmy Law Firm

Workers in the oil and gas industry face unique hazards that pose higher risks to their health and safety than workers in other sectors. According to recent CDC data, 470 oil and gas industry employees were killed in their line of work between 2014 and 2019. Over half of the recorded fatalities happened in Texas, where more than 40% of the nation’s annual crude oil production takes place.

Understanding the most common causes of oilfield accidents can indicate ways to reduce future risks and make oilfields safer for everyone.

How Can We Prevent Oilfield Accidents?

While data indicates oilfield workers are at a higher risk, employers, owners, and operators can take steps to help minimize the risk of accidents, such as:

Enforce Transportation Protocols

Highway vehicle crashes are a top cause of oil and gas employee fatalities. Since employees often work long, grueling shifts at irregular hours, driving to and from the remote areas where wells are often located while tired is a recipe for disaster.

Companies can tackle fatigue by implementing and enforcing schedules prioritizing rest, cracking down on dangerous driving behaviors like speeding, and checking employee driving records for violations or citations. Employers can also install warning signs and traffic control in high-risk areas and implement weather-specific travel protocols to keep workers safe.

Implement Tech Safety Systems and Signage

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) database indicates that over half of the on-site fatalities in the oil and gas industry occur when workers are struck by an object or caught in or between heavy machinery or other equipment.

Derricks, drawworks, high-pressure lines, and overhead cranes are just some examples of equipment that may cause harm. However, many modern machinery is equipped with automated monitoring systems and proximity sensors to anticipate mechanical breakdowns and stop operations in the event of an emergency. Companies should consider investing in updated equipment and erecting signage to reinforce safety best practices and alert workers of new or changing hazards.

Provide Adequate PPE

Employers must provide workers with the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) that meets OSHA standards. This includes items like helmets, goggles, gloves, boots, safety harnesses, and respirators. Workers should always wear all required PPE, ensure it is in good working order, and report any damaged or malfunctioning equipment immediately.

Improve Fall Protection

Along with vehicle accidents, falls are one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. oil and gas industry. Oilfield work requires repeatedly lifting heavy objects and moving large loads on elevated platforms, posing a risk of trip or fall accidents. In addition, oil and other fluids can create slippery conditions around the rig.

Fences, guardrails, and other forms of fall protection should be implemented around the worksite. Companies and workers should ensure walkways aren’t too slick, and workers should always use fall harnesses in precarious situations.

Monitor Weather Conditions

Oilfield conditions can change quickly and are heavily affected by weather conditions. For example, high winds and lightning can damage oil rigs, topple drilling equipment, or ignite flammable materials.  Heavy rains and flooding can lead to landslides in onshore oilfields, and rough seas and high waves can create a dangerous environment for offshore rigs.

Extreme weather events like hurricanes and excessive heat can also disrupt oil production and cause safety issues and supply chain delays. While it’s impossible to predict some weather elements such as a flash flood, other conditions like oxygen levels can be monitored to decrease the risk of an accident.

Thorough Training

You might imagine oilfield work primarily taking place in wide open outdoor spaces, but workers also perform many tasks in confined spaces such as storage tanks and mud and reserve pits. Electrical, hydraulic, or mechanical forces in these smaller areas pose additional risks. These smaller areas have a greater risk of airborne chemical hazards and a concentration of flammable vapors with the potential to ignite in the right conditions. Workers in these spaces should be trained extensively so they know how to prepare for the risk of asphyxiation and what to do if they become trapped.

Proper training is crucial even when the equipment is well-designed, installed, maintained, and grounded; misusing quality equipment can be just as dangerous as working with a defective piece of machinery. Effective safety measures are essential, such as:

  • Clearly marked ground connections
  • Highly visible operating procedures
  • Strict adherence to safety protocols before undertaking repairs

However, these measures are only effective when workers are properly educated and trained to follow them diligently.

Hurt in an Oilfield Accident? Call Kemmy Law Firm Today

Accidents can happen even with the most careful preparation. If you were hurt in an oilfield accident, Kemmy Law Firm can help. Our attorneys have decades of experience helping oilfield accident victims around Texas, and we know what happens when safety protocols aren’t followed.

Our team will listen to your story, determine the full extent of your injuries, identify all the liable parties, and fight for you to recover the maximum compensation possible for your losses.

Call 844-334–4388 or contact us today for a free consultation.

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When you work with us at Kemmy Law Firm, you are working with a family run firm with more than 50 years of combined experience. We are dedicated and successful trial attorneys practicing in West TX, Hobbs, NM, Midland-Odessa, and across the Permian Basin. Our team handles everything from catastrophic injury claims to complex business matters. We are here to fight for you. We dedicate our time and attention to your case and use every resource available to maximize your claim and obtain the best possible outcome.