The oil and gas industry is fraught with health and safety hazards mandating industry players to implement best practices and continuously train their workforce. The purpose is to ensure occupational safety at all times.
One of the crucial operations of upstream oil and gas is well drilling, a service activity that involves potential health and safety hazards. Oil and gas wells release hydrogen sulphide (H2S), a toxic gas that can greatly impact workers exposed to it. Three best practices can help reduce the exposure to the gas and these are good planning, active monitoring for hydrogen sulphide, and continuous training for the workforce. Workers exposed to this gas are prone to suffer from diseases of the skin, lungs and other organs, depending on the length of the exposure.
Another occupational hazard with the oil and gas industry is the excessive noise level that oil and gas workers are exposed to in their field of work. As a result, they may also suffer from noise-induced hearing loss. Then again, working in confined space for long stretches may lead to injury, especially to untrained workers, and sometimes, even psychological issues requiring redressal.
It therefore, becomes imperative for oil and gas industry service providers to ensure occupational safety and implement health risk management in order to identify and assess all safety and health issues at the workplace and also define and implement appropriate control measures for overall safety of the workers.
Apart from evaluating and fixing issues in project design and plant facilities, the oil and gas companies also have to check oil wells and tanks regularly. As already stated, hydrogen sulphide poses serious problems in its storage and transport. So cleaning of these tanks is another major health hazard. Problems can manifest in the form of oxygen deficiency resulting from confined space, or procedures such as oxidation or rusting. In addition to hydrogen sulphide, carbon monoxide too can be present, along with other chemicals and metals such asarsenic, carbonyls, and tetraethyl lead.
Identifying The Health Hazards
There are several techniques to address the health hazards, one of them being the Hazard and Operability study (HAZOP). This is a structured and systematic evaluation of an existing operation with an aim to identify and evaluate any potential hazards to health and safety. It is conducted by a team of experts including engineers from different disciplines. The team evaluates the plant, well or system from all angles to identify potential pain areas or any deviation from the intended operation against all defined safeguards. Apart from health and safety assessment, the experts also analyze the system for any consequences to the environment. They may recommend solutions that include additional safeguards or procedures as they deem fit. Their findings also identify all the Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) issues that would need to be resolved before the workforce enters the well or plant.
As already stated, while a career in the oil and gas industry can be extremely rewarding it is equally challenging and fraught with several occupational hazards. These usually manifest from working in confined spaces in remote locations, and in wells where the danger of harmful chemicals, radioactive metal and gases is ever present.
As a responsible oil and gas service provider, we at Get Global Group are alive to the occupational hazards of the industry in which we operate, and place health and safety of our personnel and the environment above all concerns. We regularly train our personnel so that they are well-versed with the preventive measures and the precautions they have to follow. Before they enter into a well or plant, or before taking up maintenance work such as cleaning tanks etc., we first ensure that the project areas have been thoroughly checked and all best practices followed. Besides, investing in the health and safety of our workforce, we also take care of their psychological health given that they have to work for long hours and long stretches in remote and sometimes hostile terrain away from their families. We hold regular seminars and health-check-ups to minimize these occupational health and safety hazards. Before sending our employees to the worksite, we ensure that they are physically, mentally and emotionally trained for the job ahead, trained to all best practices, and aware of the regulations both international and local compliance as mandated by the country in which the project is located.