The numbers paint a grim picture: the oilfield industry is one of the most dangerous ones. So much so that the number of deaths caused by oilfield accidents increased by 100% in 2015 compared to 2007.
Of course, not every accident leads to lost lives, but the numbers are high enough to make one question if the regulations imposed by the industry are enough to protect its workers.
The problem is that until 2015, the reports were very vague on what constitutes common injuries in the oilfield industry. Most of the times, the companies claimed that the workers were at fault. But that’s not the complete story, though. The accelerated increase in demand has led to considerable growth in personnel. Companies had, thus, less time for training than before, which led to a rise of accident risks.
If you are preparing or you already work in the industry, then you should know not only which are the most common oilfield injuries, but also how to avoid them.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that we’ve put burns at the top of our list. Even with extended precautions, the danger of being caught in an explosion or fire is quite high when you are working in an oil-based environment.
2. Fractures: Shoulder, Neck, Back
Falling from a height or getting entrapped while handling pipes, chains or tongs is another common risk of serious injuries. Elevated rigs, for instance, could lead to severe neck or spine fractures. Getting entrapped might be hazardous as well, and could cause fractures or even suffocation.
3. Amputations or Disfigurations
If you are lucky enough to survive a fall or an entrapment, amputations are another type of injury that oilfield workers sustain quite frequently. Disfigured hands or amputated fingers aren’t only physically debilitating but can also take a toll on a person’s emotional well being.
The oilfield is a very toxic environment. Not wearing proper equipment or not taking all the necessary protection measures might lead to gas intoxication. That is perhaps one of the biggest risks oilfield workers face, as it might lead to brain damage in the long run. In other instances, workers could lose consciousness and fall from a height or get entrapped while handling equipment, putting their health and lives at risk.
Hydrogen sulfide poisoning is one of the frequent intoxication people face.
5. Hearing Loss
If we are talking about oilfield risks, then the hearing loss should be at the top of the list. Similar to factory workers or employees who have a job near very noisy equipment, the continuous exposure to loud noises can affect one’s sense of hearing.
6. Eye Injuries
Numerous workers lose their sight in burns or explosions. Moreover, even something mild, such as a cornea scratch can lead to a severe eye infection in a working environment with so many chemical components.
How To Avoid Them?
The oilfield is a dangerous environment – that is a given. However, there are precautions you can take to minimize the risks of injury:
1. Wear Protective Equipment
It’s easy to forget your helmet or gloves when you have to get to the worksite as quickly as possible and handle an urgent matter. However, this minor oversight might have terrible consequences which might result in injury or even death. So, no matter what’s burning (both figuratively and literally) always wear protective equipment.
2. Follow Safety Regulations
Companies should make sure that employers follow through with safety regulations. Have managers check if their team is complying with the safety rules.
3. Get Proper Training
One of the first things to do when entering the oilfield industry is to ask for proper training. That way, you become aware of the risks and make sure that you don’t make any mistakes that could endanger you or your colleagues. Not only will proper training make your day to day job more comfortable, but it will ensure you can still work tomorrow.
All in all, safety should come first, and you should watch out for any potential dangers before jumping in, no matter how fast-forward everything is.