Guidelines and Best Practices to Follow on Energy Jobsites
The oil and gas industry is one of our nation’s most crucial because it supplies such a large portion of our energy needs. Unfortunately, it has historically been one of our nation’s most dangerous industries as well. The difference between a safe day on the job and an accident often comes down to you. Keep these 10 essential safety tips in mind to avoid becoming a statistic.
1. Maintain and Utilize Property Safety Apparel
Visibility is a major factor in workplace safety. That is why your high visibility clothing includes high-visibility coloring and striping. It is rare that employees fail to wear this gear, but what supervisors do see from time to time is poor maintenance of the clothing.
Drilling is messy work, and worker uniforms can become stained with mud, grease, soot, and of course the oil itself. Over time, even the best reflective and high-visibility fabrics will become too dirty to perform properly. Make sure that each item of your work clothing is as clean as possible, and make good use of your uniform allowance to replace items that are too soiled to clean. Replace work footwear that may not provide adequate traction.
2. Support Good Communications
A drilling operation is a complex workplace, with workers involved in various processes at different locations that must all be coordinated for efficient production. This requires extensive communication through a variety of means, including radio conversation, direct verbal contact, hand signals, horns, and other methods.
The first step is to make sure you understand all the signals and codes. Practice them to keep yourself proficient. If you carry a radio, check its performance and battery at the start of each shift. Know emergency procedures regarding how to contact help and who is responsible for doing so. Finally, use your hearing protection so that your ears are not ringing when you need to communicate.
3. Keep Track of Lock-Out Areas
The various stages of the extraction process leave some areas dormant during equipment movement, repairs, testing, and other procedures. Stay on top of which areas are locked out and which equipment is tagged out. If you see safety signs, tape, or tags that are not properly posted, notify the appropriate parties.
If you are in charge of tagging certain areas, frequently review your work to make sure that all warning indicators are intact, visible, and accurately labeled so that other personnel have the correct information about the status of those areas and equipment.
4. Observe Basic Safety
Sometimes in the complexity of a workplace, it can be easy to miss minor issues by staying too busy watching major ones. It does no good to keep a drilling area properly secured if there are trip hazards, slick surfaces, or walking areas in poor repair.
Keep your eyes constantly on alert for those simple things. Watch for the same kinds of hazards on the job that you might watch for at home, such as wet or greasy walkways, missing light bulbs, or uneven steps. If you discover an issue, make the proper notifications and make sure that the responsible personnel correct the problem right away— especially if the responsible person is you.
5. Keep Your Training Current
When you first hired on, you were trained in the full range of tasks that you would be required to do. Over time, you probably moved into a specialized area of work and became very good at it. At the same time, you may have also become less sharp in the areas of work that you were not doing.
Let learning be a full-career commitment for you. Never write off training opportunities as a waste of time. You just might learn something that could save your life or that of a coworker. Remember to train beyond your area of specialty as well because the entire well site is a dangerous area.
6. Stay Aware of Your Location
Unlike a factory or many other workplaces, a drilling rig is a changing work environment. Stockpiles of equipment, work areas, and drill sites may be in constant change, rewriting the map of the job on a regular basis. If you are assigned to a specific area for weeks at a time, you may be surprised at how the rest of the site is evolving.
Simply put, learn your way around. Move through different areas of the job site to make sure you understand escape routes, access points for emergency personnel, locations of safety equipment, and so forth. You may be able to save precious seconds or moments when someone’s life is in danger.
7. Pay Attention to Your Mental Condition
If your arms or back can no longer do the work, you seek treatment. You visit a doctor, see what’s necessary to get you back to work, and follow that course of care. The same is true for your mental health. Your focus and alertness are just as critical to workplace safety as the strength and skill of your hands.
Maintain your physical health so that your mental health follows. If you are dealing with difficult emotional issues such as family stress or PTSD from a workplace incident, follow your employer’s procedures for seeking help. The more distracted you are by what’s going on in your mind, the greater the risk to your physical safety.
8. Follow Good Driving Habits
Relocation of equipment requires transportation of heavy equipment by heavy vehicles. The massive amount of weight of rig gear and the presence of works to load and secure it calls for extra attention to safety.
Whichever phase of transporting equipment you are involved in, be alert. Make sure the driving portion is in normal working order. Complete pre-trip inspections before movement on the job site just as you would before traveling on the highway. Maintain proper speeds, use approved driving surfaces, and remain alert to hazards around you.
9. Be Alert to Your Surroundings
One of the most common causes of workplace injuries and deaths is the “caught under/between” category. These incidents can be a result of a variety of factors, including bad footing, poor lighting, driver error, and simply being somewhere that you should not be.
Many of these accidents can be prevented with some common-sense steps. Be alert to who is working around your equipment or vehicle. When in doubt, do not move it. If you are on foot yourself, maintain a 360-degree view of the area to ensure that you are not in the path or blind spot of trucks or equipment in motion.
10. Follow Maintenance Procedures
Poor maintenance of anything, whether it be equipment, tools, vehicles, or anything else, is a recipe for an accident. Your company and each item’s manufacturer will have maintenance schedules for everything that is used on the job. Closely adhering to these schedules and procedures is critical to keeping everything in top condition.
Be careful not to let complacency creep into your routine. Do your preventive maintenance as conscientiously the hundredth time as you did the first time so that your risk of an accident is as low as possible.
Extractive industries will always be dangerous, but when you take responsibility for your own safety, you can do a lot to make sure that you make it home safely after each shift.
Tags: November December 2022 Print Issue
Nick Warrick is the sales manager at All Seasons Uniforms, a professional workwear company based outside of Chicago that has been in business since 1991.