In terms of health and safety, the oil and gas industry certainly falls into the category of high-risk working environments. However, there has been a decrease in the sector’s non-fatal injury rate in the UK, with the number of accidents now lower than in comparable industry sectors such as construction, manufacturing, transport and storage. The over-seven day injury rate also fell to the third lowest level since this measure was first collected in 1996, which proves safety levels are certainly going in the right way.
Despite these positive trends, there was a fatality in the UK oil and gas industry last year which shows that as always, there is still plenty of room to improve the health and safety processes that are in place, particularly where ‘dangerous occurrences’ are involved. Here are four top tips from industry experts and respected publications to help maintain and improve levels of safety:
Consider every hazard, no matter how small
In such a potentially dangerous environment, health and safety professionals can take nothing for granted. Even the smallest hazard can quickly escalate into a bigger issue, particularly in such a close contact environment as an oil or gas rig. For this reason, safety professionals must make sure they are aware of every incident that occurs, no matter how small, so they can prevent similar and potentially more severe incidents in the future.
Understand the underlying causes
Solving minor and major hazards in the short-term is only half the battle for health and safety professionals. To improve the safety oil and gas workers in the long-term, it is essential the underlying causes of any issues are identified and understood. Improving communication between workers and having a better understanding of safety procedures is all part of making the necessary long-term changes.
Take every opportunity to learn
There may only be an estimated 9 years of oil reserves remaining in the UK, but the industry is still constantly changing, so there’s always something new for safety professionals to learn. Listening to what the industry needs, learning from practical experience and talking to workers is all part of the ongoing learning experience. With regular new developments in risk assessment software and safety equipment, health and safety professionals must understand these changes and make them a part of future processes to prevent unnecessary risks to the team.
Analyse your performance
Analysing the data on a workplace’s health and safety performance will give professionals fresh insight about where potential hazards are likely to occur. They can then develop new processes and practices to prevent those accidents. There is new analytical software that accurately measures risk levels and those options should be fully explored. Solutions can then be found that address those risks to improve the health and well-being of the workforce.
Although there have been significant improvements in the safety performance of the oil and gas industry over the last few years, these four steps have a key part to play in driving future improvements and keeping accident rates low.