Preventing Slip and Fall Injuries in the Oil and Gas Industry

Keeping employees on their feet takes more than a casual reminder to “watch your step” during daily toolbox talks.

Worker at equipment viewed from above

Harsh environmental conditions are unavoidable when working on outdoor well pads. Add in slippery well pad liners, heavy equipment operation, cords and cables, long working hours, demanding ergonomic tasks, and a host of other potential hazards and it is little wonder that slip, trip, and fall injuries are a leading cause of lost work time.

In fact, the Department of the Interior estimates that about 23% of worker injuries and 36% of fatalities in the oil and gas industry are because of slips, trips, and falls. Keeping employees on their feet takes more than a casual reminder to “watch your step” during daily toolbox talks.

Although each site has unique characteristics and hazards, identifying and eliminating common causes of slip and fall injuries minimizes risk and the potential for slip, trip, and fall injuries.

Maintenance and Good Housekeeping

Keeping tools and equipment in good condition is a challenge, especially when operations are running 24/7. However, failure to maintain and repair these items regularly can lead to unsafe conditions. Pumps, valves, and fittings that are not maintained can develop leaks, which creates puddles that make walking surfaces unsafe.

Lack of maintenance can also lead to other unsafe conditions. For example, poorly maintained hydraulic systems can fail, create spills, and potentially release fluids under high pressure.

Even when they are operating correctly, pumps, grease recovery units, pump trucks, blenders, and just about everything else onsite tends to leak. This means that both the equipment as well as the areas around each piece get covered with oil and grease. Nonslip grating helps to improve traction but can be overwhelmed if the areas are not routinely cleaned.

Tools, equipment, cords, cables, packing materials, and supplies that are scattered around the well pad instead of being kept in toolboxes or in designated areas present tripping hazards. Making time to reorganize storage areas and tidy up both work and storage areas at the beginning or end of each shift can prevent trip hazards from piling up. It will also help to keep walkways, aisles, and lanes clear for both foot and vehicle traffic. An added bonus of organized workspaces is that time is not lost looking for needed tools and supplies.

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