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Safety in the Oil and Gas Industry

March 11, 2020
June 21, 2023
Oilfield sunset

In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 94 employee deaths in the oil and gas extraction industry, making it among the most dangerous occupations in the private sector.

Many fatalities are believed to be the result of understaffed operations, over-fatigued workers, or inadequate physical fitness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The physical demands of the job, proximity to hazardous material and operation of heavy machinery create an environment with high risk and potential for workplace injury. Adequate safety protocols, thorough initial and ongoing training, and access to a team of health and wellness professionals who implement an ergonomics and training program are key. Work-Fit coaches employees to work with proper biomechanics, efficiency and safety in high-risk environments. Let’s look at some of the specific risks oil and gas industry employees face and how injury prevention management and practices can mitigate those risks.   

Common Hazards in the Oil and Gas Industry

Competition is fierce for well-paid jobs - and for many, this means 12-hour shifts plus overtime. It can often mean switching between day and nights shifts as well.  Unfortunately, with longer shifts and less sleep, the risk of injury or death grows.  

radioactive barrels stacked
Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORMs) are a common oil & gas industry hazards.

Common hazards include:

  • Diesel Particulate Matter
  • Fatigue
  • Hazardous Chemicals
  • Hydrocarbon Gases and Vapors (HGVs) and Low Oxygen Environments
  • Hydrogen Sulfide
  • Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM)
  • Noise
  • Silica
  • Temperature Extremes

While new technology, machinery, and personal safety equipment can address hazardous conditions, the most avoidable factor is fatigue. With long working hours and stressful conditions, it is imperative that employees utilize proper biomechanics and working postures. This can drastically reduce musculoskeletal fatigue and the risk of injury.  Work-Fit’s staff of professionals specialize in training these movement patterns so employees learn to  move efficiently and safely. 


Safety and Risk Management in the Oil and Gas Industry

Safety and risk management is paramount in any industry.  Proper training and communication is fundamental. With the extreme conditions and long work hours, oil and gas employees are at a greater risk of making deadly mistakes. Therefore a proper break schedule and adequate staffing are essential.  Safety professionals may also identify potential workplace modifications to improve employee productivity and reduce risk of incidents. 

Additionally, an injury suffered by a team member can have exponential consequences. Losing just one team member puts the rest of the team at greater risk.  Orthopedic issues, chronic pain, or improper physical practices need to be immediately addressed. Preventative measures against repetitive motion injuries can help keep a team at full strength. When an employee does suffer injury, the entire workforce feels the strain of their co-worker’s absence. However, Work-Fit’s specialists can guide the employee’s recovery process through treatment, therapeutic exercise and biomechanical education.  To contribute to the success of the whole team, and injured employee may be taught strategies to successfully work within their limitations.  Most importantly, Work-Fit’s comprehensive care model then works to minimize the employee’s risk of re-injury. 


Injury Prevention Starts Now

Being proactive is essential.  Every employer must ask these important questions:  “Have we adequately trained our employees in every process?”

“Do we regularly provide refresher training on all operations and safety protocols?”

“Are we physically preparing our employees for their job tasks?” 

“Is our team adequately equipped to adjust to injured or rehabbing employees?” 

“Are we preventing the next musculoskeletal injury or just expecting it?”

To begin implementing evidence-based injury prevention programs, contact Work-Fit today and learn how our services can help your organization.


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