Texas is consistently the top oil-producing state in the nation; last year alone, Texas produced 42.7% of the total crude oil in the U.S.. This stronghold in the oil and gas industry is maintained by a massive workforce. According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, this industry employs almost 425 thousand Texans and supports 1.37 million jobs. These hundreds of thousands of employees typically work in environments with on-site hazards, often resulting in serious injuries or fatalities.
7 Hazards That Oil Field Workers Face
There are numerous ways workers can be injured while working in an oil field, given their daily proximity to toxic compounds and heavy machinery. Read on to learn more about seven dangers oil field workers face that employees should be aware of and that employers should protect against, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA):
Three out of five on-site fatalities in the oil and gas industry result from a struck-by/caught-in/caught-between hazard. These hazards can come from multiple sources, such as vehicles, equipment, or high-pressure lines.
Proper protective equipment, education on proper operation, machinery training, and general safety requirements and protocol should all be implemented to reduce the occurrence of a worker fatality or injury due to struck-by/caught-in/caught-between hazards.
2. Explosions and Fires
Workers are exposed to highly flammable vapors and gasses daily on the job. The wells, machinery, equipment, and trucks, can all release various flammable gasses and vapors, in addition to the crude oil itself as it’s being drilled, increasing the likelihood of a fire or explosion. However, ignition sources are not always apparent, like an open flame. Some lesser-known ignition sources include static, cutting, welding tools, hot surfaces, and frictional heat.
Flame-resistant garments, portable fire extinguishers, frequent fire drills, and continued education around hazards should be made accessible and implemented to reduce risk and to better equip workers with the knowledge of what to do in the event of a fire or explosion.
Depending on a worker’s job function, they might be required to access platforms and equipment that sit high off the ground. OSHA requires fall protection to be in place to prevent serious injury if a worker falls from a great height, but slip-and-falls can still easily occur on the ground. Slip-and-falls can occur for a variety of reasons, including fatigue, spills, obstructions on the ground, openings left uncovered, and inclement weather.
4. Confined Spaces
Workers that are required to enter confined spaces are at risk of igniting flammable vapors, asphyxiation, or exposure to hazardous chemicals. Confined spaces should be tested before entry and monitored continuously to prevent injury.
5. Ergonomic Hazards
As with any heavy labor job, oil field workers are likely exposed to ergonomic-related risks such as lifting heavy objects, pushing and pulling heavy loads, and performing repetitive tasks. Efforts should be made to reduce the number of ergonomic hazards on-site by utilizing new tools, moving different equipment to be more accessible, and educating workers on ergonomic health and the risks they are bound to face.
6. High-Pressure Lines and Equipment
One of the hazards of working with high-pressure lines and equipment is erosion and wear and tear, resulting in leaks and bursts that expose workers directly to high-pressure impact. While the external deterioration of lines can occur, internal line erosion is harder to detect. Education around these potential hazards and their causes, in addition to routine maintenance and safety best practices, are important ways employers can further protect their workers.
7. Electrical and Other Hazardous Energy
If equipment is not designed, installed, and maintained properly, workers are at a greater risk of being exposed to electrical, mechanical, or hydraulic hazardous energy. OSHA recommends operating procedures should be implemented to reduce the rupturing or failure of various equipment.
Injured at Work? We Can Help.
Oil field workers are exposed to hazards every day on-site. Workers injured often must pay for medical bills, long-term therapy, and rehabilitation. At Jeff Chandler Law, we will help you explore your legal options and advocate for you throughout the claims process.