Workers in the Texas oilfields face an endless list of safety hazards, and their employers are responsible for their safety. However, many workers take their own precautions rather than entrusting their lives in the hands of employers — many of whom prioritize profits over employee safety. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration lists falls as the primary cause of deaths on oil rigs.
Regardless of your job description, the prevalence of elevated work areas on the oil rig will always pose risks of falls with life-changing consequences. Working on small platforms with exposed edges and open holes at heights between 30 and 100 feet pose significant fall hazards.
The ABCs of fall protection
Fall protection equipment, and not bravery and experience, will protect you from falls. The following make up the essential ABCs of fall protection:
- A — Anchor
- B — Body harness
- C — Connectors
Make sure you wear your personal protective equipment whenever you work at heights exceeding four feet. However, damaged equipment will not protect you. Inspect all the parts carefully before your shift each day, and learn the correct way to use it. Although this equipment will serve to arrest a fall, careful positioning of the lanyards can prevent a fall. Take note that climbing up and down to and from elevated areas also poses fall risks.
Common causes of falls
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a significant percentage of fatalities in the oil and gas industry cited falls from elevated work areas as the cause. The following are the most prevalent causes of falls in this industry:
- Unstable working surfaces
- Unprotected edges or sides
- Improper use of ladders
- Slips or trips
- Lack of, or improper use of, personal protective equipment
Along with falls, another component that needs your attention is falling objects. While working at heights, you must ensure to tether tools to prevent dropping them. The CDC further reported that dropped objects, such as debris and tools, cause 22% of fatalities in the oil and gas industry.
Even something as small as a nut or bolt dropped a great height can cause fatal injuries to workers at lower levels. Along with tethering tools, debris nets can serve to catch any dropped objects. Lower-level workers must make sure they wear their hard hats at all times.
If you suffer fall-related injuries, you might be unsure of the steps to take to obtain financial relief to cover mounting medical bills and lost wages. Workers’ compensation insurance is optional for employers in Texas, but an attorney with experience in helping injured workers to get compensation can provide invaluable support and guidance.