Identifying Oil and Gas Industry Hazards


Employees who work in the oil and gas industries are no strangers to risks on the job. While employers work to identify and mitigate these dangers, no one is immune to accidents. The injuries sustained in these fields can be more severe than those of other industries and take longer to recover overall.

1. Vehicle collisions.

Long hours on the rig and on the road contribute to many accidents each year. As fracking and other daily operations require the transportation of water and materials, oil and gas industry employees are constantly on the road. Exhausted employees and a lack of alertness are common contributors to roadside accidents and also lead to careless mistakes that might have been prevented.

2. Machine dangers.

Amongst all the industries that use hazardous machines and equipment, the oil and gas industry arguably ranks first. Many of these machines operate in unguarded areas which further endangers the workers using them. This means operations such as traveling derrick, heavy lifts and hoists, spinning chain, loading and unloading materials, and drilling should be conducted with care by competent operators.

Awareness of machines, how they operate, and wearing protective gear are essential tips to keep workers safe. Next, employers should be proactive about following OSHA-recommended safety guidelines such as updating equipment as necessary, fixing broken machinery, and applying the necessary safety labels and precautions on each.

3. Exposure to harsh chemicals.

Any of the drilling and oil processing plants diffuse extremely hazardous chemicals into the atmosphere most of the time. Prolonged exposure to toxic and volatile, chemicals and fumes can cause respiratory as well as major brain problems to the workers.

Encountering caustic materials may result in chemical burns while workers can develop respiratory illnesses from inhaling toxic gases.

In addition, exposure to toxic hydrogen sulfide at crude oil wells is a huge concern. While the distinct yet foul odor is easy to identify to anyone else, oil and gas workers might become accustomed to it as prolonged exposures weakens their sense of smell. In fact, Hydrogen Sulfide has been linked to cause leukemia, paralysis, and even death after prolonged exposure.

Ensure your employees are equipped with face masks and other personally protective equipment to mitigate these hazards.

4. Watch out for flammable substances.

Most people associate fires with electrical equipment. However, a spark from a cigarette or a poorly handled machine can ignite a devastating fire.

Workers must understand the hazards that may be surrounding them in the workplace, such as flowback fluids used at well sites that have methane and other flammable substances that can ignite. Employees should be aware of any potentially flammable gases from production and surface equipment, as well.