Oil and gas production facilities are notoriously dangerous workplaces. Not only do you work with incredibly volatile substances, but you are often using highly specialized and dangerous tools and equipment as part of your job. In spite all of this, in 2016 mining and petroleum development had the lowest lost-time claim rate of any industry in Alberta at just 0.27.
While the industry may be dangerous by nature, both employers and employees work closely together to minimize risks. We’ve gathered 5 safety practices that oil and gas production facilities in Western Canada should be following.
1. Personnel Education and Training
Ignorance is definitely not bliss when it comes to oil and gas production facility safety. Making sure that all personnel are properly informed regarding safety policies and procedures can make a world of difference. Employees can’t do their part if they don’t know what their part is. It is common practice for employers to provide safety training decals to workers that they must wear on their hard hats once they have completed specific training. An employer is responsible for making sure that employees are familiar with both company policy and government regulations regarding things such as:
- Facial hair and grooming.
- Smoking, drinking, and drug use.
- Wearing personal protective equipment.
- Various workplace hazards, including physical, chemical & environmental hazards.
- Proper procedures for using dangerous tools.
- Be aware of and prepared for all emergency procedures.
- Know when and how to opt-out of work for safety reasons.
2. First Aid
Despite everyone’s best efforts, accidents do happen. Having adequate staff trained in first aid, as well as having properly stocked and maintained first aid kits, is an essential component of oil and gas production facility safety. Everyone on site should be made aware of where the First Aid Kits and Eye-Wash Stations are located. An appropriate number of first aid trained employees should be on site at all times, and all employees should be aware of who those people are.
3. Alarms, Drills, & Extinguishers
Proper detection of harmful gases and smoke are critical to oil and gas production facility safety. In these environments, a small gas leak or fire can become a big problem very quickly. All employees must be trained in emergency procedures as well as the location, use and operation of emergency and fire protection equipment.
Fire and evacuation drills are also an essential part of employee training. At drilling rigs, drilling units and production facilities fire drills need to be completed at least once every two weeks. These drills should always be taken seriously and should help employees remain calm in the event of an actual fire. Muster Points should be clearly identified and the location mentioned to all visitors and staff on-site.
4. Lockout / Tagout Procedures
A lot of dangerous equipment is used in a production facility. Proper Lockout / Tagout procedures make activities such as erecting, installing, constructing, repairing, unjamming, cleaning, servicing and inspecting safe for the people responsible for performing the work.
Lockout is when you literally put a physical lock on the equipment to make sure that it is isolated from its power source. While locked out, a tag should be placed on the equipment that explains why the lockout/tag is required, the time the lock/tag was placed, and the name of the person who authorized it. Each person doing the work should place their own lock on the equipment, and only that person should have a key to remove it to make sure that the lock/tag are not removed unsafely.
5. Proper Safety Signage
Making sure that things are sporting proper signage is a huge component of oil and gas production facility safety. Whether that means making sure that all of your signs are up to date (don’t forget to make sure you’re updated to WHMIS 2015 before the deadline!), aren’t too worn and faded, or simply that you have a sign everywhere you need to. Signs are by far the most blatant in-your-face safety precaution you can take and they’re required by law.
If you have any questions or concerns about the signs in your oil and gas production facility, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. It’s kind of our forte.
You can also check out our blog post on How to Prepare for an Oil and Gas Audit for examples of the types of signs and standards auditors look for.
There is just under a year to the final changeover date for WHMIS2015, and you are probably a bit confused, right? Wondering what the timeline is for your business to be compliant and change over all your signage and labels? Don’t worry, you’ve come to the right spot. We set out on a journey to compile and make sense of all the relevant dates and government requirements.
You’ve most likely heard a lot about WHMIS in Canada (WHMIS 2015) and its intention to unify with the Globally Harmonized System for Classifying and Labeling Chemicals (GHS) to create standard labeling across Europe, United States, and Canada – essentially be a single overarching international system.
The amended Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) legislation that was put forward by Health Canada in February 2015 has created alignment with GHS. However, there’s a transition period of about three years before the OHS code requirements will be fully enforced on a federal level. We now have a year left of that three year period. Nevertheless, it makes perfect sense to take action now and order products that are compliant, so you don’t have to order everything again to update them in the near future. You also have to switch over all your old WHMIS symbols, you can’t keep these outdated labels and signs. Now is the time to transition!
Here Are the High-level Federal Changes Regarding WHMIS 2015:
- Naming change of “Controlled Products” to “Hazardous Products”
- New and revised hazard classes
- New classification criteria
- New supplier labels (see below)
- New pictograms (see below)
- New 16-section product safety data sheets (SDSs)
- Requirement changes: SDSs don’t have to be updated every three years
Deadlines for Updating Your Signage to WHMIS 2015
- A. Oilfield Manufacturers & Importers:
From June 1, 2018 to August 31, 2018
- B. Oilfield Distributors:
From September 1, 2018 to November 30, 2018
- C. Oilfield Employers:
On December 1, 2018
*These were pulled from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety website. However, understand that requirements could vary. Reach out to your local jurisdiction for further details.
The transition period is to allow for time to switch everything with the old layouts already in existence over. By December 2018 everything must be in place for the new system. This date encompasses manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers. These Changes won’t affect well site, pipeline or TDG regulations, it ONLY affects WHMIS controlled products.
Employers are responsible for protecting the health, safety, and well-being of their workers. Therefore, they must assure that all staff are adequately educated on both WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015 if they’re utilizing both systems in the workplace. The transition period provides ample time for employers to fulfill this legal obligation and to update their workplace safety program. Learn more about employer requirements below!
Remember you need new labels, safety data sheets, plus updated worker education and training.
Looking for further information on the WHMIS 2015 Transition?
- Check out Canada’s National WHMIS Portal (whmis.org)
- Connect with IDENT’s oilfield signage experts for WHMIS compliant ordering assistance. We’re up to speed on British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan compliance and requirements. Call 1-800-661-1919
- Changes to WHMIS Legislation in Alberta (work.alberta.ca/documents/OHS-Bulletin).
Earth Day has left a long-standing legacy; this widespread environmental movement has been around since 1970. Now that’s dedication! April 22nd marks the annual day where people join forces around the world to push forward various causes and initiatives that impact our local communities and global climate change.
IDENT has identified a number of ways to lower our carbon footprint and assure the products we use internally don’t negatively affect our people’s health or the environment. Everything is considered from printing method (we’re a digital printer), digital ordering and fulfillment systems, eco appliances, high-efficiency lighting, to basic recycling. However, as with most stories like this, it didn’t happen overnight. Our journey was more of an evolution that took shape over the past few decades.
How have printing practices evolved in the industry and at IDENT?
Screen printing was the be all and end all. However, it meant printing with solvent inks which had VOC’s (volatile organic compounds), which are really nasty and toxic similar to lead found in paints. You recall the beautiful high gloss finishes in your kitchens and bathrooms? They sure were beautiful, but super toxic. The use of solvent-based inks wasn’t conducive to a healthy work environment; screen printers dealt with it for many centuries due to its longevity, suitability for many surfaces and strength of colours. Most workers would be high from the fumes even with the proper ventilation in place.
During the late 70’s, California had a big push around getting rid of the toxic solvents for environmental and health reasons as VOC’s are large contributors to smog. They pressured and protested the chemical industry to make a shift, which fortunately paid off.
Believe it or not, there are still traditional solvent-based screen printers operating in rural communities today.
Digital UV (Ultraviolet) Printing
Digital started with solvent-based inks, but it quickly moved to UV inks once the industry could overcome some of its initial shortcomings. Digital UV printing is a more environmentally friendly solution, and it has vibrant colours and consistency. Similar to the toner in printers, you can vacuum seal and recycle the empty ink packages and cartridges. Now the only Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) concern employers have is assuring basic ventilation since there are very limited to no VOC's in these inks making them printer and environment-friendly.
UV curing inks are essentially all solids with virtually no solvent. The curing happens with a chemical reaction that creates a bond between molecules; it dries instantly under the exposure of UV light (instead of air drying). With no solvent to evaporate into the air, there are no VOC’s being released either.
However, with all these advantages, there are also disadvantages. It took off slowly because the outdoor durability of the product wasn’t as good. Most industry professionals originally felt we could only produce indoor posters, but that we couldn’t use it outdoors for any length of time.
What does IDENT do to minimize its carbon footprint
IDENT always wanted to ensure that our #1 focus was taking care of our people and with that came our desire for keeping their health and safety top of mind, which in turn also meant environmentally conscious processes throughout the company.
Project e-dent kicked off in January 2011 – it was our push to move from a paper-based office to fully digital, we had identified the scope of the project, the risks, the strategy and launched all the phases making us entirely digital on July 28th, 2011. We went from a paper heavy environment: imagine having docket after docket with the appropriate job specs that migrated across the full lifecycle of each order, to a paper-free operation. We removed all paper communication and documentation across the company in order to increase efficiency. Our team had lots of fun with the company-wide project; we used potato chip flavors like Salt n’ Vinegar & Dill Pickle as our milestone code names and celebrated achieving them by handing out chips of that type on the day
For our Town Hall that year we conservatively estimated saving one tree per employee per year (average worker 10,000 pieces of paper a year – a tree produces approximately 8,333 pieces of paper), so from July 28th, 2011 to December 31st, 2016 we’ve saved 176 trees!
Energy Efficient Office Décor
We installed modern eco high efficiency LED lighting, automatic thermostats, and low water high-efficiency toilets. We also chose a building that had low ceilings to reduce our heating needs.
Our front office staff is encouraged to work from home 2-3 days a week in order to give them more flexibility and eliminate their need to drive to the office as much, which also lowers our overall carbon footprint.
Printing & Responsible Disposal of By-Products
We are a digital print shop which is significantly more environmentally friendly, as discussed above. Now, we simply have to recycle printing cartridges, similar to home printers, just bigger.
Back in 2001 IDENT purchased its first UV press for the company. We were early adopters in transitioning to the latest technology. Our production was leading edge, especially in Alberta, where everyone else was still solvent based in the area (due to equipment costs). Many of our clients were used to our products lasting 10 years outdoors and then with UV screen printing it went down to two years, let's just say there were lots of lessons to be learned along the way.
We started to look for solutions on how we could give this new printing method more longevity and life. We began with an overlaminate film. IDENT tested 20+ products vigorously until we found just the right product. But being the obsessive perfectionists we are, we kept searching for better products, until we discovered a different UV process called liquid lamination. We discovered this product from traveling to tradeshows, many of which were outside our field. This new overlay provided us the ability to offer a 5-year warranty.
We have a recycling program for aluminum, bottles, plastics, cardboard, and the minimal mixed paper we use. We take care in how we pack our shipments in order to minimize the need for packing supplies.
We've always embraced being ahead of the curve and leading with technology, even at the expense of initial profit. We will always adopt the latest greatest technology and advances in the signage printing industry.
We are very pleased to announce that IDENT has purchased the oil and gas Regulatory Sign division of Indy Graphics Group in Red Deer, Alberta. This strategic decision allows Indy to focus on their commercial sign and apparel business and IDENT to continue its focus on our core competency as Western Canada’s leading regulatory sign supplier.
Our team is fully specialized in the energy industry; we carry certificates in H2S Alive and TDG, plus we’re all well versed on how businesses should transition to WHMIS 2015. We’ve also invested in Industry leading technology and printers over the years to assure rich print quality and longevity of our products. Our weather testing standards are basically unheard of in the industry! We believe in providing the utmost quality to our customers, that’s why we rigorously test our signs against the extreme weather conditions typically found in British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. Stop by our office if you want to see the before and after of our oilfield signs, our internal weather testing machine will blow your mind! Our products are designed to withstand years of wear and tear in the field.
IDENT began helping customers oil & gas customers in Alberta in 1982 with a vision of providing exceptional service and unparalleled knowledge to assist clients with their regulatory and compliance signage needs. We decided to seek an acquisition because we believe that consolidation in the marketplace will allow us to improve efficiencies and strengthen our position to serve you in your field better. IDENT hasn’t grown in employee size; we are still at 14 people in our Calgary, AB office. We believe this is an ideal size to serve our customer's needs effectively. This acquisition of Indy’s Regulatory Sign business is another step in IDENT’s long-term commitment to the oil and gas industry in Western Canada.
We are proud to be in this field!
We know there’s lots to do come audit season. Here are some helpful tips to prepare for an audit, whether internal or external! BONUS! We’ve included specifics on the signage requirements for you.
What is an Audit?
It’s an official inspection performed by an auditor to ensure your business is adhering to health, safety and environmental standards. An independent body typically performs the audit.
Different Types of Audits
1. Internal Audit: Your company’s HSE Department drives these to ensure your business is compliant. They could be executed by your field staff, operators, or summer students. Depending on company size you may have local and regional evaluations.
- Your company determines how much notice if any is given.
- Normally performed, quarterly, and annually.
- When a deficiency is identified, responsible parties are notified in order to rectify the issue in a timely manner.
2. External Audit: Performed by an outside party of Certified Oilfield Auditors. Depending on the province you belong to you can expect a visit from Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) BC Oil & Gas Commission (BCOGC), Saskatchewan Ministry of Economy (EPAP/ECON) etc.
- No notice is required.
- Normally performed in the spring/summer months.
- Inspection areas: operating wells, production, and processing facilities, and pipelines.
- If a deficiency is discovered a company may be warned or fined, or the operation may even be shut down.
What do auditors look for?
According to AER, “Inspection activities are prioritized based on the weighting of three key criteria, referred to as OSI (for operator, sensitivity and inherent risk):
- operator (licensee/contractor) history
- sensitivity of the location
- inherent risk of the project or operation.”
Inspection and audit areas to consider:
- Housekeeping: Is it clean? Is it safe? Is it orderly?
- Staining: Oil spills, fluid spills, and drips
- Flaring: Schedules and information
- Safety & Signs: Compliance, fading, and missing signage (see below for more details)
- Audit History: Be sure to review historical audit reports, and past action plans to have better insight into what was previously discussed.
*Be sure to check with your internal auditor or safety team for a full checklist!
Ensure you have these signs in place before an audit:
1. Pipeline signs
- Emergency number
- Name or logo of the licensee or operator
- Product name
- Note: Beyond the above three requirements, each provincial governing body has their own specific pipeline regulations. AER, for example, discourages the use of sweet/sour and extra product descriptors besides oil, gas, water, and flammable liquids
2. Wellsite signs
- Sweet/sour indicator
- Emergency number
- Name or logo of licensee or operator
- LSD as laid out on license
- Note: Beyond the above four requirements, each provincial governing body has their own specific well site regulations. ECON, for example, requires both indicators when a site is sour.
- Access to signs: if they are in addition to required entrance/wellhead/facility, they are considered directional signs and do not need to include an emergency phone number or sweet/sour indicator
- WHMIS labeling: tanks, barrels, containers.
- TDGs: required on trucks carrying regulated products on site, optional on truck loading signs.
- Truck loading signs: truck loading signs are required by Transport Canada.
- Pipe marking tape: flow direction is required.
- Product label: product can be identified on the flow direction tape, or using a colour coding system with a corresponding colour code chart. These systems are not regulated.
Need oil & gas signage? Our team can advise on the compliant oilfield products you need; we’ve got you covered. Let the experts provide you with an overnight quote, just drop us a line.
IDENT is the leading oil and gas industry signage producer. With 35 years of experience, we guarantee accurate and consistent products on your schedule, shipping within Western Canada. The majority of our products ship between 1 to 5 business days.
So you need to bring attention to something, whether it be on your lease, inside your plant, or in your office. You have a new field, or you need sales people to actually make an appointment. Maybe auditors swept through and found a deficiency.
With a whole bunch of options out there, you might be wondering if you should be buying a sign or a decal.
Let us help you decide!
What’s the difference?
Let us help you figure out everything you need to know before you spend even more precious time googling!
A sign is a hard metal or plastic product, most commonly signs are aluminum. The rigid surface of the sign offers flexibility in how and where it is installed.
You’ll want to use a sign if:
- The old sign is cracked, damaged or has bullet holes in it (trust us, this happens).
- Anything over 144 sq inches should be a sign; trying to lay down a 2ft x 2ft decal is tricky even for the pros!
- The entire pre-existing sign is faded beyond recognition.
- You want to mount your indicator on a post, fence, stand or rough wall (any surface a decal won’t adhere to).
- If the existing sign is COVERED in so many different layers of decals, it looks like a Picasso painting.
- If the surface is going to be subjected to heavy winds or rain; the sign is less likely to fail.
- If the weather is rainy, snowy, or below 5 degrees Celsius. A decal will fall right off the sign days or even minutes after installation when applied in these conditions.
- You need a quick application.
- If your branding guidelines are strict, a new sign is the best way to present a clean aesthetic.
- There is no pre-existing signage; for example, a brand new drill on a lease.
- If the pre-existing sign is 5 years or older, time to replace that puppy! No one likes a shiny new decal on a fading sign.
A decal is a flexible vinyl with an adhesive backing; basically it’s a super strong sticker! Decals tend to be the more cost efficient option between the two. They do need to be applied to a clean, dry and warm surface for the adhesive to be effective. When decaling a sign in below 5 degree Celsius weather, the sign must be brought inside and warmed up prior to installation, so keep that in mind when you consider the total cost of a project!
You’ll want to use a decal if:
- You are covering a pre-existing sign for the first time.
- There is a caveat here! You are only covering a small portion of a pre-existing sign; large areas can lead to uneven applications and air bubbles.
- You want to wrap around a curve; for example piping, or a vehicle door.
- The surface you are applying these on is smooth and solid; like a wall, a door, a petrochemical container, or a tank.
- If you are looking for a short term solution and know the sign will be swapped out in the near future, then this is your best option.
- Budget constraints; but remember! It’s cheaper now, but in the long run, you’ll probably spend more in effort and eventually have to replace the sign anyways.
This doesn’t even begin to touch the many other material options available. For metal alternatives, there are magnets, plastic placards, lamacoids, engraved metals and more. For decals alternatives, there are many levels of adhesion not to mention levels of opaqueness! There’s clear vinyl, matte vinyl, gloss vinyl, blockout vinyl, reflective vinyl, void vinyl, security vinyl. I bet just reading that gave you a headache!