When it comes to safety, you don’t get any second chances.
In the event of a workplace accident, the best defense is one that is proactive not reactive.
Knowing the risks of your workplace, whatever it happens to be, can make a noticeable difference in worker safety.
Planning ahead is the strongest measure you can take to prevent the unwelcome from becoming a reality and if anyone knows this better than most, it is those in the oil and gas industry.
Still operating as one of the driving forces behind the global economy, the industry is well known for its dangerous working conditions. However, workers are often put at risk not through improper working regulations but through the very nature of the work itself.
The business of oil and gas excavation is not an easy one.
Derrickhands, for example, those that defy gravity to scale oil rigs hundreds of feet off the ground, put their lives in the hands of their Personal Protection Equipment and safety protocol every time they clock in.
With no guaranteed safety net, worker training and alertness is key. Even if you’re able to make a case for the agility factor, it’s a tough sell
Today, we’ll be discussing some of the finer points of PPE use and safety protocol in the oil and gas industry.
After all, safety is kind of our thing.
Oil Extraction and Safety: A Brief History
It is important to remember that not all safety regulations are created equal and oil and gas is no exception.
As the industry took off in the 1880s, safety took a back seat.
The early days of oil excavation are riddled with examples of glaring irresponsibility, worker’s lives being blatantly put at risk in the name of turning a profit.
In a case today that would shock most health and safety supervisors, the protocol for oil containment in those early years was life-threatening at best and fatal at worst.
With oil housed in poorly-constructed wooden and steel containers, escaping fumes proved to be excellent fire starters, with recorded fatalities being commonplace.
In hindsight, it is amazing to think that all of this occurred while developments such as PPE were still years away from becoming a required component in the industry and instead, a culture of “worker toughness” took center stage.
With time, however, change eventually came and incredible progress was made in the arena of industry safety.
- Advanced, cutting edge PPE
- Highly-developed safety procedures.
- And a growing online community advocating for worker safety and education.
This commitment to put safety first, has rightfully propelled the industry into the modern age. However, even with the advantages of modern technology and the ability to execute complex and high-risk tasks with precision, worker injuries and fatalities still occur within the industry.
The Numbers Don’t Lie
As reported by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention,
From 2003-2013, 1,189 fatalities in the industry were reported, an average of roughly 119 per year.
According to Sahram Vatanparast of the Occupational Health & Safety magazine,
“Historically, half of all injuries among workers have been hand related”.
And as outlined by the U.S. Department of Labor,
70 percent of workers who sustained a workplace hand injury were not wearing protective gloves at all.
These are staggering numbers given the apparent, widespread use of PPE within the industry and a supposed, deeply ingrained safety culture.
What’s Going Wrong?
For all the strides made in worker safety, it is so far impossible to account for unplanned human error or to craft foolproof measures to counteract the law of averages.
Eventually, on a rig or on the ground, an accident will take place that will put lives at risk.
To fight this, it helps to head to the proverbial kitchen and, as I imagine my grandmother would say, “check the safety cookbook.”
The best recipe for success is one that counts adherence to safety guidelines and consistent PPE use as one of its main ingredients.
It may seem obvious but for derrickhands, even veterans on the job, constant use of their PPE and a strict following of any other workplace-specific rules and regulations will help to keep accident probability to a minimum.
We’ve mentioned it before but occasionally it is the experienced worker who can pose the greatest risk in a crisis.
Regardless of their comfort level with tasks being performed, safety comes first.
Remember, familiarity is no substitute for security.
Oil and Gas? We Have a Glove For That
When it comes to finding the right glove for the oil and gas industry, keep in mind that even the most advanced and well-regarded products cannot mask the dangers brought forth by a high-risk workplace or incorrect use.
The best glove, is the right glove.
Here at Superior, we offer a host of different gloves for the oil and gas industry, each designed with specific tasks, safety standards and of course, the best fit in mind.
Safety in this sector has taken huge leaps forward over the past one hundred years but that doesn’t mean progress should be halted.
Understanding the inherent risks of various jobs in the profession, can make the difference between an uneventful but successful day or one, filled with possible PPE failure or worker incompetence.
Life in the field can be challenging, demanding and ultimately rewarding but it doesn’t need to be unnecessarily hazardous.
Knowing how to manage risk will lower the possibility for a serious accident and keep all parties protected.
Don’t ever let safety hold you back. It just might save your life.
Check out our 15 Most Frequently Asked Questions when it comes to PPE.