The oil and gas industry is a challenging environment for workplace safety. In a sector known for being high-risk, there are dozens of factors to consider and problems to solve—all while trying to maintain operational flows. This is where understanding the true value of safety helps to identify which improvements make the most impact. These advantages can be boiled down to a few key points: employee welfare, regulatory compliance and growth opportunity.
Advantages of Improved Safety Operations
Create a Productive Culture Through Safety
Positive and productive employee relations are the foundation of a strong workplace culture. Maintaining safe work environments, particularly by investing in equipment and training, shows employees that their health and their lives matter. It provides tangible evidence that their employer takes an active interest in their well-being.
This sets the stage for a mutually-beneficial relationship. Operators who focus on these priorities are more likely to retain employees, which can cut down onboarding costs immensely. Proper training equips workers to understand the risks to their own safety, and in turn, how their actions impact the safety of other team members.
Cut the Cost of Non-Compliance
The expansion and increased enforcement of OSHA regulations over the last few decades give operators good reason to tighten up their safety management systems. There may be costs associated with increased compliance standards, but there are even higher costs that can come from non-compliance. Employers should pay close attention to high-risk situations, particularly in regards to providing and enforcing adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), developing fall protection and overseeing safe operations of heavy equipment.
Accidents can still happen even in a compliant workplace. However, the potential liability from lawsuits and long-term medical billing is much greater if the environment does not comply with current regulations. It’s also worth noting that fewer accidents mean less downtime, which lowers total operational costs. In short, we must embody the mindset that investing in safety and OSHA compliance can ultimately lower overall costs and save lives.
Keep Growth Opportunities Open
Aside from financial liability, operational disruptions and regulatory fees that may arise from workplace accidents, there is another hidden cost that oil and gas operators need to consider. This cost comes in the form of poor statistics documented in operators’ Requests for Proposals (RFPS).
In order to bid on a new project, vendors must submit these documents as part of their application, meaning there’s no way to get around it. Accident and injury rates are among the key metrics that project supervisors look at when receiving these documents, so they play a major role in determining who wins the bid. Since vendors are legally bound to submit accurate information, having a clean track record is vital in securing future jobs. Failure to do so only cripples the potential for long-term growth—a reality no operator can afford to ignore.
Top Health Hazards in Oil and Gas Operations
With so many potential hazards and legalities to consider, it can be challenging to develop a comprehensive plan that addresses all of these areas for improvement. Starting with some of the major concerns can help operators set priorities and address the most critical areas first.
Vehicle and Equipment Accidents
Historical data shows that vehicle collisions are the leading cause of fatal accidents in the oil and gas industry. Operators that provide long-distance transport and logistics should routinely evaluate their safety measures and address any gaps found in their current safety protocols. The top accidents recorded on-site, however, are incidents involving heavy machinery. Properly training and conducting safety audits for heavy equipment is the best way to mitigate potential risks and improve company policies.
Exposure to Toxins
Exposure to toxins is another serious workplace hazard commonly found in energy exploration. Inhaling gases and fine particles can create lasting damage that can lead to long-term disability. This is why investing in reliable and substantial protective equipment is so important for employee and operation welfare. It’s often better to go beyond the minimum requirements to give workers ample coverage.
Trips and Falls
Fall protection is critical for safe oil and gas operations but is often one of the highest non-compliance incidents reported year after year. Falls from infrastructure and equipment can cause serious injury that typically requires long-term recovery, and in some cases, death. There’s no single solution for these concerns, so it’s usually a combination of training, proper procedures and workspace design.
Stress and Mental Health
Mental and emotional health is a serious problem that is often unaddressed. Long shifts, distant locations and high-risk working environments can generate increased stress in workers. This contributes to friction between team members, lower productivity and personal health problems.
Innovations to Improve the Workplace
Operators seeking to create a safer workplace should look towards new innovations that protect workers. One of the most promising developments is advanced monitoring and tracking technologies that provide immediate alerts when there is an equipment malfunction, chemical leak or other hazard that is detected. Drone site inspections and improved audio communications systems can also eliminate some of the risks to personnel.
Make Safety Your Strong Suit
As a comprehensive oil and gas health and safety services provider, Pharma-Safe Industrial Services supports operators as they create safer, healthier and environmentally sound worksites. Our team provides long-term personnel, on-site training, audits, investigations and many other solutions tailored specifically for oil and gas operations. We stay at the cutting edge of new technology and industry regulations so we can help our clients work safer and smarter.
Contact us today to learn how Pharma-Safe Industrial Services can help you foster a safer workplace and streamline your safety management systems!