Working in the oil fields is difficult and dangerous and can lead to accidents with significant injuries.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issues warnings about oil and gas extraction hazards and recommends safety measures for companies and their workers to follow.
Explosions and fire
Explosions and fires occur when flammable gases or vapors ignite. Well gases, vapors and hydrogen sulfide are among the flammable gases that tanks, equipment or trucks can release. Ignition sources include open flames, lightning, cutting or welding tools, hot surfaces and cigarettes.
High-pressure lines can erode internally, resulting in potential leaks or line bursts. This would expose workers to the hazards of compressed gases.
Workers must often enter confined spaces such as mud or reserve pits and petroleum storage tanks. In such tight spaces, they face potential safety hazards including the ignition of flammable vapors, exposure to hazardous chemicals and asphyxiation. Confined spaces must undergo testing before anyone enters and should also be continuously monitored.
Trucks often carry workers and equipment to wells in remote locations. As a result of the need to travel long distances, vehicle crashes are the primary cause of worker fatalities in the oil and gas industry.
Oil and gas industry workers lift heavy items, pull heavy loads and reach and bend repetitively. As a result, they are candidates for ergonomics-related injuries.
OSHA publishes literature highlighting oil and gas extraction hazards and recommends steps to help prevent injury or death. They monitor company safety programs, recommend the use of personal protective equipment and develop safe practices for workers who make a living in a challenging and dangerous occupation.