5 Practices for Oil and Gas Production Facility Safety
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.