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The Oil and Gas Industry is struggling. How do we promote worker safety in a lean job market?

Times are tough in the oil fields. Jobs are difficult to find and even harder to keep. Hundreds of oil rigs have been shut down. Thousands of workers have been let go, and those left behind are worried about tomorrow. Welcome to the latest economic downturn in the oil and gas industry.

"You could look a man in the eye and lie to him and tell him, 'Oh, we're not going to lay anybody off,'" said Anthony Zacniewski, HSE director at Abilene, TX-based Bandera Drilling. "But people in this industry know what's going on. Most people have been through 2008 and 2009, when oil went from $120 a barrel to $30 a barrel. This is the same thing."

When an industry slumps, two things can happen to occupational safety. It can take a backseat as organizations feverishly try to accomplish more with less. Or it can remain a priority, preventing a bad situation from becoming worse.



Safety - Articles & Info

BN-GL757_0115oi_J_20150115150620At least 38 oil-field fatalities occurred nationaly in 5 months... 

At least eight workers have died since October in North Dakota's oil fields, more than in the preceding 12 months combined. The uptick in fatalities comes as many oil companies are responding to plummeting crude-oil prices by dialing back their drilling activity in the state, one of the hubs of the U.S. energy boom.

Some federal safety officials say they suspect oil's plunge might be a factor in the accidents because it puts cost-cutting pressure on oil-field services companies, whose employees do much of the work at drilling sites. The rash of accidents in North Dakota, which has the highest workplace death rate in the country, began around the time the number of drilling rigs in the state began to decline but, the officials said, it's too early to draw conclusions.

In one two-week period in January, two workers and the owner of a small oil-field services company died in three separate accidents that included a fire and the probable inhalation of deadly chemicals.

In addition, safety officials said there have been an unusual number of basic safety errors, including cases in which workers brought space heaters, generators or other gear that could spark fires into enclosed spaces containing flammable vapors.

"These are the kinds of incidents that we haven't seen in a while," said Eric Brooks, who directs the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Bismarck office. "With the drop in oil prices, companies may be looking to protect the profit margin by hiring contractors that are not experienced," he said.

"It's simple math," said Dennis Schmitz, a safety consultant to oil companies operating in the state.

"There's absolutely potential that some of what we're seeing is driven by the price of oil."


Safety - Articles & Info


Every year, treatment approximately 30 million people in the United States are occupationally exposed to hazardous noise. Noise-related hearing loss has been listed as one of the most prevalent occupational health concerns in the United States for more than 25 years. Thousands of workers every year suffer from preventable hearing loss due to high workplace noise levels. Since 2004, buy viagra the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that nearly 125,000 workers have suffered significant, permanent hearing loss. In 2009 alone, BLS reported more than 21,000 hearing loss cases.

Exposure to high levels of noise can cause permanent hearing loss. Neither surgery nor a hearing aid can help correct this type of hearing loss. Short-term exposure to loud noise can also cause a temporary change in hearing (your ears may feel stuffed up) or a ringing in your ears (tinnitus). These short-term problems may go away within a few minutes or hours after leaving the noisy area. However, repeated exposures to loud noise can lead to permanent tinnitus and/or hearing loss.

Loud noise can also create physical and psychological stress, reduce productivity, interfere with communication and concentration, and contribute to workplace accidents and injuries by making it difficult to hear warning signals. Noise-induced hearing loss limits your ability to hear high frequency sounds, understand speech, and seriously impairs your ability to communicate. The effects of hearing loss can be profound, as hearing loss can interfere with your ability to enjoy socializing with friends, playing with your children or grandchildren, or participating in other social activities you enjoy, and can lead to psychological and social isolation.

• How does the ear work?

• What are the warning signs that your workplace may be too noisy?

• How loud is too loud?

• What can be done to reduce the hazard from noise?

• How can OSHA help?

How does the ear work?


Safety - Articles & Info


Because it works with flammable and even explosive materials, viagra sale the oil and gas industry necessarily makes high demands of its fire protections systems. Many traditional solutions are, however, no longer acceptable because of concerns related to global climate change-a top of mind issue for the oil and gas industry. Joe Ziemba of 3M Company looks at a new alternative that offers many benefits.

To provide fire protection in the offices, equipment rooms and other confined spaces that form part of onshore and offshore oil and gas installations, halon-based extinguishing systems have, in the past, been a popular choice. As an extinguishing agent, halon is efficient, clean, relatively low in toxicity and, in its heyday at least, it was inexpensive.

It does, however, have two crucial shortcomings – as a brominated fluorocarbon it does significant damage to the Earth’s ozone layer. In addition, halon is long lived in the atmosphere and has a high global warming potential. This led to the production of halon being phased out in the early 1990’s to comply with the Montreal Protocol, and most manufacturers ceased to make halon-based fire suppression systems around the same time. Clearly, an alternative was needed, and the most widely adopted class of compounds were hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). These agents certainly have the required zero ozone depletion potential, but they fall short in another area – their global warming potentials are substantial.


Safety - Articles & Info

February 24, 2015

After a 17-hour day at their jobs at a natural gas drilling site in Ohio, four workmates packed themselves into a truck and set out for their company's shop in West Virginia, a four-hour drive away. Just a few miles from their destination, the driver fell asleep and the truck veered off the road. In the resulting collision with a sign, one entire side of the truck was ripped away and one of the passengers died. Incredibly, the man who was killed had barely escaped death just two months prior when a different co-worker fell asleep behind the wheel and the truck they were riding in smashed into a pole.

The events described above took place two years ago, and they represent tragic examples of how difficult it has been to maintain an overall culture of safety during this time of increased energy-related activity in the U.S. As boomtowns and energy projects emerge in remote places, the risks to workers and others in the surrounding communities have increased.

Innovation Means Rise in Risks, Too

The story of any burst in energy activity logically begins with exploration and production. First, an energy company must locate new sources, and then go about the difficult and often risky business of extracting them.

The recent energy boom has created an entirely new set of associated risks compared to those of the past. Today's drilling methods require significant amounts of water, sand or gravel, chemicals and equipment to constantly be delivered to work sites, accounting for up to 4,000 truck trips per well—a number that can be nearly 50 percent higher than what would be considered a "traditional" extraction process.

At the same time, extraction operations in some cases ramped up too quickly for communities to build sufficient roads to handle the increased and unwieldy traffic patterns or to install appropriate traffic signals.

An analysis of traffic deaths and U.S. census data in six drilling states showed that the population of North Dakota counties where drilling activity is taking place soared 43 percent over the last decade, while traffic fatalities increased 350 percent. Roads in those counties were nearly twice as deadly per mile driven than roads in the rest of the state. Of course, not all of these accidents involve trucks from drilling projects—drivers transporting heavy equipment and day-to-day motorists are sometimes the cause—but the traffic volume associated with drilling activity can quickly surpass a small community's ability to seamlessly absorb it.


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