Safety toolbox talk topics
for oil and gas
Blog » Safety toolbox talk topics for oil and gas
Oil and gas servicing and well drilling activities involve various kinds of equipment and materials. Therefore, recognizing and controlling hazards at an oil and gas worksite is critical in preventing injuries or deaths. Some of the hazards related to oil and gas extraction can include:
- High-pressure lines and equipment
- Explosions and fires
- Electrical and other hazardous energy
- Confined spaces
- Ergonomic hazards
- Machine hazards
However, with proper planning and prevention, many of these hazards can be reduced or possibly eliminated. Here are few topics that can be included in your next safety toolbox talk.
Three of every five on-site deaths in the oil and gas sector can be attributed to struck-by/caught-in/caught-between incidents. These hazardous situations can be created due to multiple sources, such as moving vehicles or equipment, falling equipment, and high-pressure lines.
To reduce hazards, it is essential to make workers aware of equipment and where it is being moved so they can be mindful and cautious while working.
Transporting the drilling rig needs to be accomplished carefully, with communication between the drivers and other workers so that workers are not struck by the moving rig or caught between the rig and the well. While rigging up to prepare the rig for drilling, workers at ground level should keep clear of anything being moved above them if any equipment or materials fall.
Those above should remove or tie-down equipment before performing work on the rig. Suspended loads need to have tag lines attached to the load to allow workers on the ground to control the load. Workers should be conscious of the swing radius of tongs and spinning chain when using for tripping out and in, and check high-pressure lines for any damaged connections and that whip checks are present.
High-pressure lines and equipment
High-pressure lines can erode and cause leaks or line bursts that could create high-pressure compressed gas hazards. Line connections can also fail and potentially create struck-by hazards if whip checks are not installed correctly.
Pressure vessels (any storage tanks/vessels designed to operate at pressures above 15 gauge p.s.i.) can fail and lead to poisoning, suffocation, fires, or explosions.
These vessels need to be regularly inspected and repaired to prevent incidents. Workers should be trained on the dangers of working on and around these types of equipment and have the ability to report any recognized leaks promptly.
Workers involved in blowout prevention should pay attention to hoses and other pressurized lines and be aware of the high fluid pressures that may build up.
Explosions, fires, electrical and other hazardous energy, and confined spaces
Explosions and fires can occur on rigs when flammable gases, such as well gases, flammable vapors, or hydrogen sulfide, ignite. These harmful substances can be released from wells, trucks, or equipment like tanks and shale shakers.
Ignition sources include static, frictional heat, hot surfaces, open flames, lightning, electrical energy sources, or cutting and welding tools. Workers should watch for damaged equipment, extension cords, and disconnects to prevent electrical injuries. Workers should always follow proper lockout tagout procedures to reduce the risk of releasing hazardous energy.
Spaces where gases or vapors can build up, most notably empty tanks, drums, and containers, should be monitored to test for flammable atmospheres before starting any hot work.
Additional confined spaces like reserve pits and other excavated areas can also be where hazardous gases can settle. Again, testing for atmospheric flammability and toxicity should not be overlooked.
Fall protection must be provided to prevent workers from falling from masts, drilling platforms, or other platforms on the rig high above the ground.
Employers should conduct comprehensive fall protection education for workers who regularly work at heights and provide training to ensure that personal protective equipment is being fitted, used, stored, and inspected properly.
Employees could also potentially eliminate working from elevated platforms by using automation to handle drill pipes on the floor rather than on platforms. If working at heights is required, workers could implement an additional system to verify that harnesses and lanyards are anchored before starting work.
Workers performing bending, reaching, pushing and pulling, heavy lifting or repetitive motions can be at risk for ergonomics-related injuries. Maintenance activities such as working on the wellhead, pulling and running rods, or pulling and running tubing can cause fatigue and stress.
These types of tasks are common in the oil and gas industry but can be controlled or eliminated through educating workers on the risks, injury signs and symptoms, use of the right materials and tools, pre-task planning, and recognizing and reporting symptoms and injuries before conditions worsen.
Rotating wellhead equipment, including draw works, pumps, compressors, top, kelly drives, catheads, hoist blocks, belt wheels, and conveyors, can pose hazards to oil and gas workers. Workers could be injured if they are caught between or struck by improperly guarded machines.
The essential parts of machines to pay the most attention to are the point of operation, power transmission devices, and other moving parts.
Moving or rotating components on well equipment can force a worker’s body into a dangerous position or catch hair or clothing, causing injury. Guards on parts should be secure and should not interfere with the job. Proper guards will make it more likely that workers will attempt to disregard the protections.
Planning and prevention
Each servicing or drilling company needs to have a safety program tailored to the hazards at its worksite. Evaluating risks at the worksite can help to establish ways to protect workers and use safe practices.
Using a Job Safety Analysis Process (JSA) can aid in finding solutions to the types of oil and gas hazards identified above, as well as helping to communicate hazards and train workers effectively.
After evaluating the hazards above and controlling as many as possible through engineering or administrative controls, PPE may need to be provided to prevent overexposure to noise, chemicals, or other hazards.
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