The Top 5 Occupational Hazards in the Oil & Gas Industry

By Kassidi Koronkowski on June 25, 2019
Tags: Data Collection, Productivity

Improper safety management in the oil and gas industry is not a small oversight and has many impacts. This occupation has many potential health and safety threats, but with hyper-vigilant management and well-trained employees, these threats can be largely mitigated in any working environment. In order to mitigate this, it is important for staff to understand the potential health and safety risks. Additionally, it is important for them to know what processes and occupational safety regulations are in place to prevent these incidents by following OSHA standards.

Here is a list of the top 5 occupational hazards in the oil & gas industry: 

1.  Vehicle Collisions

One of the most dangerous places for workers, especially in Oil and Gas, isn't on site-- it's on the road. OSHA reports that nearly 4 out of 10 workers killed in oil and gas are killed due to highway vehicle accidents. Since all items must be transported to remote fracking sites, highway vehicle crashes are common and very lethal. Vehicle accidents are reported to be the top cause of death in the oil and gas industry. Fatigued drivers due to long commute times and physically intensive work requirements while on site, are just a few of the contributing factors to these traffic stats. 

2. Struck-By, Caught-In, Caught-Between 

This industry requires the use of some incredible, but potentially dangerous large machinery for oil and gas extraction. Three of every five on-site fatalities are a direct result of struck-by/caught-in/caught-between incidents. Equipment such as moving vehicles or equipment and high-pressure lines can cause injuries or fatalities. As with all heavy machinery, it is important that equipment is constantly inspected, and employees are properly trained on its use and wearing the proper protective equipment. 

3. Explosions and Fire

In the oil and gas industries workers, are exposed to many flammable vapors and gases. The exposure to hazardous chemicals poses a major risk to on-site employees as management of either can be difficult. According to OSHA.gov, a field tech could be exposed to any of the following, “Flammable gases, such as well gases, vapors, and hydrogen sulfide, can be released from wells, trucks, production equipment or surface equipment such as tanks and shale shakers” that can cause many health risks. Ignition of these items doesn’t require an open flame either, frictional heat, welding tools, or even just hot surfaces can create a risk of fire in any environment. Wearing personal protective equipment like respiratory protection will help decrease any occupational health hazards

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4. Falls

The equipment used in the oil and gas industry is often very large or elevated high above the ground. Occasionally employees must access these platforms in order to maintain the equipment and sometimes for the use of equipment. Fall and slip protection is required at all times, and employees should always be trained on the proper use of safety measures and protective equipment before attempting use.

5. Confined Spaces 

Storage tanks and reserve pits are just a few of the constricting areas people who work in the oil and gas industry are sometimes required to enter. These spaces are often associated with many safety hazards such as asphyxiation, hazardous chemical exposure, and flammable vapors and gases that can cause many health risks. Before entering, staff should ensure they are taking appropriate protocol and assess the work environment properly before entering. This may include obtaining a permit if required and getting written consent. 

Using Technology to Mitigate Safety Risk 

Safety mitigation is a never-ending process. Consistent training, inspections, reporting, supervision, and hazard communication is required to keep our oil and gas peers safe. 

A first step in mitigating safety risks and improving your safety process is by automating your paperwork. Mobile OSHA/NIOSH forms, toolbox talks, JSA forms, near miss reports, and inspections/checklists give management the ability to make real-time corrective action and identify trends to help prevent future incidents. 

To see how GoCanvas can help you harness the power of mobile form to identify, monitor, and prevent hazardous incidents on your site and drilling rig, give GoCanvas a try today and download a free app from our Mining, Quarrying, Oil, Gas & Chemicals Application Store!


Want to learn more about how mobile technology and data can be used in the oil and gas industry?

Take a look at our new eBook, 4 Ways Big Data is Transforming Oil and Gas.

In it, you’ll learn:

  • How to predict when equipment will fail, and how best to structure your maintenance schedule
  • How data collection can help keep track of complex environmental regulations
  • How to enable quicker decision-making to improve worker safety and health

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