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Occupational Hazards in Oil Industry: Here Are Few Tips To Reduce The Risk

Occupational hazards are a part of every profession, but in the oil industry, the risks increase to manifolds. Whether a pipe contractor, energy manufacturer, or the one who removes fats from water after oil spill accidents, every person working in the industry is at risk to be exposed to hazardous elements at some point in time. Depending upon the exposure time and concentration of vapors, the worker may develop headaches, nausea, dizziness, and eye, nose, and throat irritation. Long-term exposure can lead to more severe health issues, like liver damage, kidney damage, hypertension, and other blood-related problems.

Hence, oil extraction companies should adopt measures to minimize the risk of such occupational hazards. Listed below are some potent ways to reduce the risk:

Driver fatigue program

Oil extraction companies are often situated in remote locations. The workers have to drive long distances to reach the oil wells. It causes severe symptoms of fatigue in them. Their condition further exacerbates by long shifts.

Furthermore, driver fatigue enhances the chances of accidents. Hence, companies should focus on dealing with risks related to driving and transportation.

As workers travel a long distance from their homes, the companies should make accommodation arrangements for sleep and rest. Only rested drivers should be allowed to transport other workers from remote sites after their shifts. Technologies, such as actigraphy, should be used to discern fatigue.

Fall protection

Fall is one of the leading causes of death among oil and gas workers. According to some reports, the number of falls at the worksite has increased in the last ten years.

Workers in the oil industry often have to work on rig floors at a height of 30 feet from the ground. It enhances the risk of falling and sustaining severe injuries.

The companies should use modern technologies to make the drilling and rig environment safe for the workers. Automated pipe handling system, iron roughnecks, blowout prevention equipment to stop pressure release and digital equipment to monitor drilling system should be used. Moreover, cameras and digital monitors should be installed across the worksite to monitor the danger points and alert workers about potential risks.

Silica exposure

Most companies use modern modalities like hydraulic fracturing to extract unreachable oil. In the process, silica sand is transported and blended before the drilling operations. It produces a lot of respirable silica dust, which causes several health hazards. T-belt operators and sand movers are at a higher risk of inhaling silica dust.

The companies should chalk-out a plan to make the procedure safe for all the on-site workers. Hydraulic fracturing should be implemented, movers should be ordered to wear cam-lock caps, drop height into the blender hopper should be reduced, HEPA-filtered booths or cabs should be used, and proper ventilation should be maintained.

OSHA (occupational safety and health administration) has set a permissible exposure limit for silica exposure. The workers should not be exposed to more than 50 µg/m3 of silica at an average of 8-hour a day.

Lone worker protection

Companies should monitor the safety of lone workers. Proper hazard control measures such as mandating protective equipment, adopting proper supervision measures, and using monitoring and communication devices should be adopted.

The companies should also create a journey-management program to enhance the surveillance and safety of lone workers. Vehicle telematics, GPS, wearable devices, etc, should be used to monitor the location of lone workers.

The bottom line

Certain occupational hazards cannot be avoided, but companies should not turn a blind eye to their workers’ safety. Oil companies can use these tips to reduce the risks and deploy risk management programs to boost the safety of the workers.

Author Bio

Larry Alton is a blogger and passionate writer at He loves cooking and is fond of travelling.