Risk Mitigation for Workers in the Oil and Gas Industry

Health and safety management is one of the most critical aspects of the oil and gas industry. This is because individuals working in this sector deal with harsh chemicals and other functional conditions associated with oil and gas production. Exposure to these materials can cause severe or fatal injuries.

In Australia, approximately 9 workers in the oil and gas industry encounter fatal injuries each year. Therefore, organisations must take a proactive approach to risk mitigation. This guide will elaborate on identifying oil and gas mining risks and techniques to reduce these hazards.

Major Risks in the Oil and Gas Industry

These are some of the major risks involved with oil and gas mining, such as the following:

Explosions and Fires

Explosions and fires in the Australian oil industry are not common phenomena. However, they can happen anytime and cause devastating damage to workers and equipment. For example, the Varanus Island gas explosion in 2008 had approximately 150 workers at the location. Fortunately, all personnel were safely evacuated, and no injuries were observed.

Falls and Slips

Falling or slipping is a significant risk for oil and gas industry workers. As these employees work long hours at great heights (climbing or transitioning between the derrick ladder), they are more fatigued and more likely to slip and acquire a serious injury.

Accidents with Equipment

Equipment-based accidents can be minor, with little to no injury. However, significant accidents involving heavy machinery can result in a fatality. For example, tools and screws can slip from a worker’s hand and hit the person below. Moreover, a swinging pipe or spinning chains can also strike a worker.

Hazardous Chemicals

Hazardous chemicals and materials are impossible to eliminate from an oil and gas worksite. Besides the natural gas exposure, workers also deal with hydrogen sulphide (H2S), carbon monoxide, corrosion inhibitors, biocides, and cleaning chemicals. Long-term exposure to H2S can result in respiratory failure, eye problems, and death from neurotoxicity. Meanwhile, excessive carbon monoxide inhalation causes permanent brain damage and cardiac issues.

How to Conduct Risk Assessment in the Oil and Gas Industry?

To increase oil and gas industry safety, you need to assess and identify the hazards present in the environment. Then, you can mitigate the risks accordingly.

Automated Risk Assessment Systems

An automated risk assessment system can monitor equipment maintenance. You can make the required repairs on time and avoid machinery malfunctions.

Real-Time Risk Reporting

A centralised system interconnected with all organisation departments can integrate the data flow in real-time. Due to this, all system failures, accidents, and delays are reported immediately.

How to Mitigate Risks for Workers in The Oil and Gas Industry?

Conduct proper risk mitigation by the following solutions:

Protection from Falls

Rigging up a drill rig, dismantling the drill rig, and using the derrick board can lead to a fall, especially in rough weather conditions. Moreover, workers can get struck by machinery, such as crane hooks. To mitigate these risks, you can use advanced technologies to make the rigs safer for the employees.

For example, you can use an automated pipe handling system that transports the tubular from a pipe deck to the catwalk via a pipe gripper yoke. Another way is to install a digital system that monitors the drilling system for oil mining, removing the use of manual workers and protecting them from mine collapse.

Driver Fatigue Programs

Oil and gas truck drivers often must cover large distances to supply gas. Therefore, they have to work long shifts that result in fatigue. A tired driver is more at risk of crashing the truck, going off the road, or having a vehicle collision.

You should have a driver fatigue management program that limits long working hours. According to this program, the driver will make trips per location and take short breaks when travelling to far destinations. You can also use software that detects fatigue and raises a warning alarm to ensure the driver does not fall asleep at the wheel.

Companies can also use a worker safety solution to leverage the check-in system for the driver. With this, drivers must respond to automated check-ins at various intervals. The failure to check in would result in an escalation, alerting emergency services or the required personnel.

Lone Worker Protection

Lone workers in remote locations that collect gas samples are also at risk of acquiring an injury through flammable gas exposure. So, you must use technology, such as lone worker monitoring systems, to communicate between you and the employee. Using this equipment, your team member can notify you of an emergency, and you can quickly dispatch help.

Wrapping Up

The safety of oil and gas industry workers is a significant concern, as they are exposed to unpredictable situations and toxic chemicals. To reduce this risk and provide a safe working environment, you need to conduct a risk assessment and learn what elements on the work site can harm your employees. Using risk mitigation solutions, you can protect them from severe damage.

If you want to apply an automated safety system that assesses and mitigates risk, at JESI we're here to help. It can help you with fatigue-related risks, automated remote reporting, and so much more.

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