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Oilfield Safety Laws and OSHA Regulations: What Every Oil and Gas Worker Should Know.

OSHA Regulations Oil & Gas Industry Workers | Undefeated Oilfield Explosion Lawyer

Undefeated Oilfield Accident and Injury Lawyers

Oilfields employ tens of thousands of people throughout Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, and the United States. And while it’s not unusual for oil and gas workers to bring in six-figure wages, this high pay often comes with an extremely high cost.

In fact, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), oil and gas extraction workers face seven times the rate of serious injury of all other industries. During a single four-year period – 2018 through 2022 – 529 oilfield workers died on the job.

Because their work is inherently dangerous, OSHA has established specific regulations intended to mitigate the most common causes of oilfield accidents and explosions. But having successfully represented thousands of workers against the largest oil and gas companies in the world, it’s been our experience that the vast majority of oilfield accidents, explosions, and injuries are entirely preventable and usually result from the company’s decision to cut corners and ignore safety regulations put in place to protect workers’ health and well-being.

OSHA Regulation in the Oil and Gas Industry

Oilfield workers engage in many different industrial processes, operate specialized equipment, and regularly handle or come in contact with various volatile chemicals and other dangerous substances. These conditions create many safety and health hazards with the potential to cause serious injury and death if not adequately addressed.

To keep their job sites safe and reduce risks to workers, oilfield companies must follow specific  standards established by OSHA, including:

  • Supply workers with personal protective equipment that fits properly and offers protection to appropriate standards at no cost to workers.
  • Alert workers of potentially hazardous areas using color codes, labels, posters, and signage.
  • Have tools and equipment in the facility that are safe and adequately maintained.
  • Act to remedy any violations found by a compliance officer following a worksite inspection.
  • Provide OSHA oil and gas training to workers in a language they understand.
  • Communicate requirements of established operating procedures.

Many of these regulations address the most common causes of injury and death among oil and gas workers.

Preventing Motor Vehicle Collisions

Roughly 4 of every 10 workers killed on the job in the oil and gas industry die due to a highway vehicle incident, making oilfield truck accidents and other motor vehicle collisions the leading cause of oilfield worker fatalities. To prevent crashes, OSHA requires oilfield employers to establish and enforce a driver safety policy that:

  • Helps employees recognize driving hazards such as in-vehicle distractions, driver fatigue, and deteriorating weather and road conditions.
  • Ensures company-owned vehicles are appropriate and properly maintained.
  • Requires seat belts to be worn while traveling.
  • Instructs employees to comply with all highway safety regulations and to reduce driving speed during inclement weather and when road conditions have deteriorated

Reducing Struck-By/Caught-In/Caught-Between Hazards

Three of every five on-site fatalities in the oil and gas industry result from struck-by/caught-in/caught-between hazards. These hazards typically involve moving vehicles or equipment, falling equipment, and high-pressure lines.

OSHA standards established to prevent these types of accidents include:

  • Use of engineering controls, such as alarms on moving vehicles, whip checks on high-pressure hose lines, and physical barriers around storage areas.
  • Signage and temporary barriers to increase visibility of new or changing hazards.
  • Use of specialized equipment when operating tools at heights.
  • Use of toeboards, screens, or guardrail systems to prevent objects and materials from falling to lower levels.
  • Train employees where to stand when tripping pipe in or out.
  • Barricade the swing radius of cranes and excavators.
  • Barricade areas below elevated work zones.
  • Use tag lines to maneuver suspended loads.
  • Communicate to nearby workers about suspended loads.
  • Provider workers with hard hats and other necessary protective equipment.
  • Maintain all hoisting, lifting, and rigging equipment.
  • Perform daily inspections and replace any damaged or frayed lines.
  • Use of wheel chocks on all parked equipment.
  • Use of machine guards when equipment is running. Guards should remain in place until the equipment is locked. Safety managers should create written procedures and train employees to follow them.

Preventing Oilfield Explosions and Fires

Oilfield workers face a risk of injury and death from flammable gases and liquids, including well gases, vapors, and hydrogen sulfide, that may be released from wells, trucks, and equipment. Any ignition source — static, electrical energy sources, open flames, lightning, cigarettes, cutting and welding tools, hot surfaces, or frictional heat – has the potential to trigger a fire or explosion should it come into contact with one of these substances.

To control these hazards and prevent disaster, OSHA requires oilfield operators to:

  • Install shutdown systems, intake flame arrestors, and exhaust spark arrests on equipment and machinery.
  • Conduct Risk Analysis (RA), Hazard Analysis (HA), or Job Safety Analysis (JSA) to determine where the hazards exist before performing welding or other hot work.
  • Train workers to recognize and understand the job and the hazards of hot work and follow safe work practices to prevent fires and explosions.
  • Maintain well control at all times. To prevent a well blowout, operators should install blowout preventers and associated valves at the top of the well-casing head before drilling and after rigging
  • Properly label and store all hazardous materials.
  • Communicate to contractors and employees the hazards and controls of all fluids at the well site.

Safety in Confined Spaces

Anytime oilfield workers enter confined spaces around a wellhead, they risk being exposed to flammable gases, toxic vapors, and hazardous chemicals.

OSHA standards mandate that any confined space that contains or has the potential to contain a serious atmospheric hazard be classified as a permit-required confined space, tested before entry, and continuously monitored.

Employees who perform work in these areas also need to be properly trained and aware of how hazards such as asphyxiation, ignition of flammable vapors, and entrapment can quickly increase in confined spaces.

Protecting Oil and Gas Workers from Uncontrolled Energy Hazards

Equipment powered by electrical, hydraulic, or mechanical energy creates a hazardous environment when not properly designed, installed, maintained and grounded, or operated correctly.

To prevent accidents and injuries from uncontrolled energy hazards, oilfield operators must clearly mark all ground connections, post operating procedures, and strictly adhere to lockout/tagout procedures before equipment repairs are made.

Preventing Falls from Elevations

Oil and gas workers may be required to access platforms and equipment located high above the ground.

While OSHA standards require fall protection to prevent falls from the mast, drilling platform, and other elevated equipment, a study of fatal falls among derrickmen conducted by the National Institute of Health found that 86% of victims were not using appropriate fall protection when they fell.

Failure to guard openings, ladders, open pits, floor holes, and stairs is also one of the top violations cited during OSHA oilfield inspections.

Our Undefeated Oilfield Injury Lawyers are Here to Help. Call 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here for a Free Consult.

Having won billions, including the #1 Largest Oilfield Accident Settlement for an individual in US History and the #1 Largest Oilfield Burn Settlement for an individual in US History,  our Undefeated Oilfield Accident Lawyers understand the complex OSHA regulations that govern the oil and gas industry, and they know how to use that knowledge to ensure injured workers and their families receive the maximum compensation possible for all of their injuries and losses.

If you or a loved one were injured or tragically killed because of an oilfield accident or explosion,  you must act quickly to protect your rights and your future. Please call 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here to submit a confidential email through our “Contact Us” form.

Your consultation is completely free, and because we only represent clients for a contingency fee, you won’t pay anything unless we win your case.