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Staying safe in the oil and gas industry

Published: 18 July 2017 - Sarah Mead

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the oil and gas industry, whether upstream at the platforms or downstream at the processing plants, is one of the more dangerous sectors to be in.

Fortunately, hardly any other industries in the world take health and safety as seriously. The oil and gas industry is constantly looking to improve safety standards and regulates itself very strictly.

Here are a few of the ways this sector strives to keep its workers safe, day in, day out, year after year.

Never letting up on basic safety measures

Everyone should practice good housekeeping and consideration for colleagues. If someone spills coffee, they should mop it up immediately and the same goes for more hazardous substances like oil or lubricant. Walkways and staircases must always be kept clear of tools or other objects and everyone, from the highest to the most junior members of staff, are all expected to comply.

The same goes for personal protective equipment – gloves, masks, eye and breathing protection devices must be worn whenever necessary. Other safety equipment, like the tarpaulins used to create barriers for hotwork, should be examined and stored safely after every use. There should be a blanket rule of “no PPE, no work” for absolutely everyone, as well as for site visitors.

Keeping an open dialogue with every member of the workforce

No matter whether the environment is an offshore drilling platform, a refinery or a storage facility, everyone there is highly trained and knows how to operate safely in the workplace. They know their stuff, so by performing regular health and safety inspections, as well as talking to staff members, management can pick up on concerns and worries. If there’s something making workers feel uncomfortable, a solution can be worked on so that they feel they can go about their business safely.

Take all hazards seriously

You’re already in a high-risk environment, so even small hazards can become the source of serious problems or cause major incidents, so nothing should ever be ignored. Small incidents or accidents should be logged and investigated, right down to a fall which leads to a bruise or a small cut on a sharp metal edge. If there’s something posing a risk, it needs to be changed or eliminated.

Never assume you know everything

No-one ever stops learning, not in any industry, especially where health and safety is concerned. The oil and gas industry is a good example of how developing and sharing best practice helps to improve safety standards. Everyone works together in a big network to share expertise and new findings, both top-down and laterally, onshore and offshore.

Get straight to the heart of any safety issues

Everyone can clean up spilled coffee, or sweep up a cascade of nuts and bolts, but if people are always spilling nuts and bolts on one particular corner, sooner or later someone will fall on them. If everyone works out that the boxes the nuts and bolts are kept in aren’t secure, or there’s an obstacle that everyone swerves to avoid, causing them to spill coffee, then these factors can be remedied so everyone’s that little bit safer.



 
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