Ways to protect oil field workers from machinery-based accidents

The oil and gas industry is one of the most dangerous industries in which to work in Texas and around the country. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the fatality rate for oil and gas extraction workers was seven times that of the average for all industries.

The second most common hazard for oilfield workers is to be hit or caught in machinery. OSHA classifies these types of accidents as "struck-by/caught-in/caught-between" hazards. This was higher than chemical exposures, falls and explosions. As mentioned in a previous post, the category with the most fatalities is highway crashes.  

As one of the more common hazards for the oil industry, it is important for employees and employers to know how to prevent workers from falling victim to struck-by or caught in hazards. According to the Industrial Safety and Hygiene News, it can happen at almost any stage of the drilling or fracking process, including during servicing, completion of the well, preparing the site or drilling. Out of the causes of workplace accidents in the oil and gas industry, 21 percent of accidents was due to being caught between or in machinery or equipment, and 36 percent were due to being struck by something. Together, that means more than half of injuries are due to these hazards.

Training that includes prevention and hazard education provides an essential component of lowering the number of accidents that involve machinery and equipment. Simple guidelines also provide a certain level of safety. For example, when working with equipment that has revolving spindles or similar pieces, workers should wear tight-fitting clothing without any loose components that could get caught in the equipment. They should also take care not to remove any pieces of equipment prior to running a safety check and following procedures.

Awareness while working in the location also helps to prevent many injuries and accidents, including being hit by an object, such as a truck or other vehicle. Certain measures, including toe boards and proper barricading around work zones, helps to protect workers who might be hit by a falling object as they walk underneath. Proper inspection and maintenance of equipment also help to prevent malfunctions that might lead to the machinery breaking apart or otherwise hurting employees.

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