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The Safety Brief In our podcasts we give short but valuable overviews
and insights into how contractors and safety managers
can be even more effective in protecting their workers.
In our podcasts we give short but valuable overviews and insights into how contractors and safety managers can be even more effective in protecting their workers.

7 Hazards Of Oil And Gas Extraction

Oil and gas extraction can knock a worker on his butt. Or much worse. Hear about the on and off-site hazards of this high-risk job and how to avoid them.

Vehicle, struck-by and fall accidents are some of the seven hazards facing oil and gas extraction workers. In this podcast, Dan Clark shares the dangers and best practices for prevention in this active sector.

Also hear what OSHA and NIOSH have planned to stem the rash of oil and gas extraction accidents.


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Dan Clark: Oil and gas extraction is booming! But don’t let the pressure to produce make you forget about safety. We’ll look at the 7 Hazards Of Oil And Gas Extraction in a moment.

7_Hazards_Of_Oil_And_Gas_Extraction-Creative_Safety_Supply-250x250Hi, I’m Dan Clark with The Safety Brief. We take on health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites, a service of Creative Safety Supply.

Injury and fatality rates are high in the oil and gas extraction industry. It’s inherently dangerous work made even more risky by “go fever,” the rush to crank out product.

These operations rely on skilled drivers and roughnecks to work long hours in all kinds of weather. They’re highly hazardous places, often far from emergency services, so extra caution is needed.

7 Hazards Of Oil And Gas Extraction include:

1. MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENTS. They’re the most common cause of worker fatalities in the industry — four of every 10 deaths, according to OSHA. Workers quite often have to travel by vehicle to wells in remote areas. Long trips put employees at risk.

Prevention: Plan ahead in case of bad weather and employee fatigue. I wish I didn’t have to say this, but I do: Wear the seatbelt.

2. STRUCK-BY / CAUGHT-IN / CAUGHT-BETWEEN HAZARDS. Three of five on-site deaths in oil and gas extraction are due to struck-by / caught-in / caught-between hazards. They include moving vehicles or equipment, falling objects and high-pressure lines.

Prevention: Wear PPE — hard hats, eye protection and the right shoes. Barricades to guard workers should be employed when possible. Signs warning of hazards should be posted. Inspect machinery on a regular schedule. And employees operating or near equipment must be trained on hazards.

3. FIRES AND EXPLOSIONS. Flammable vapors can come from tanks, production equipment, trucks and wells.

Prevention: Identify all possible ignition sources. Use extra caution when doing hot work. Use a gas monitor that can detect the flammables.

4. RESPIRATORY HAZARDS. Silica dust is bad news, often produced when processes use sand. Gases such as hydrogen sulfide and diesel exhaust can lead to loss of consciousness or even death. Volatile hydrocarbons too. They pop up when workers perform flowback operations, which is when tanks are cracked open to check fluid levels.

Prevention: Use a gas monitor. Take precautions if people work alone or send an extra person to observe. Follow the rule book when working in confined spaces. For all of these, respirators and ventilation may be necessary.

NIOSH industrial hygienists set up air sampling equipment on a worker to collect hydrocarbons in his breathing zones during a shift. Image by NIOSH.

5. FALLS. Often, equipment and drilling platforms are very high off the ground.

Prevention: Use personal fall arrest systems and fall prevention systems.

6. NOISE. Machinery can cause high noise levels.

Prevention: Monitor levels with a noise dosimeter. Use hearing protection as needed.

7. EXTREME TEMPERATURES. Some regions bake, some freeze.

Prevention: Have procedures for resting and getting fluids during heat; have clothing and PPE guidelines for cold.

NIOSH — The National Institute For Occupational Safety And Health — will be conducting research about health and safety in oil and gas extraction in 2016. They’ll survey 500 workers on protective gear, safety policies and hours worked. Truck drivers will be polled about pay, whether it’s by the load or the hour and if their pushed to drive during poor weather.

OSHA plans to increase enforcement at drilling sites in response to the high fatality and injury rates.

That’s all for this episode, 7 Hazards Of Oil And Gas Extraction. Join me again for more ways to stay safety compliant in today’s always-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, a service of Creative Safety Supply. Save 10 percent off your entire order at with coupon code BIG10.


roughnecks holding rig 2008 by NIOSH / CDC / Elaine Cullen; roughnecks with chain by U.S. Dept. Of Energy

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