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Despite being one of the deadliest industries in the U.S., one oil and gas company is taking the safety of its facilities and workers seriously – a fact that is helping improve business.
Oil and gas industry safety standards
As outlined by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) General Industry Standards (29CFR 1910, subpart L, 1910.155 through 1910.165), the oil and gas industry must adhere to the provisions established for supplying portable fire extinguisher equipment, automatic sprinkler systems, fire suppression and flame detector systems, fire alarm systems and any other applications that fall under the heading "Fire Protection."
However, the integration and application of these standards is not always strictly upheld in the field, and if they are, they may not prevent all incidences or work-related casualties. However, the oil and gas industry has a notoriously bad reputation when it comes to work safety. Between 2003 and 2010, the oil and gas industry had the highest death tolls in the U.S. compared to any other industry, with 823 deaths.
And even though overall fatal work injuries in the U.S. fell from 4,693 in 2011 to 4,383 in 2012, work-related fatalities rose in the oil and gas sector. In 2011, there were 111 deaths; in 2012, that figure climbed to 138, an increase of 23 percent. The Department of Labor referred to the rise in oil and gas industry fatalities as "unacceptable."
"We can and must to better," said Thomas Perez, the labor secretary of the U.S. Labor Department. "Job gains in oil and gas and construction have come with more fatalities, and that is unacceptable. That's why OSHA has undertaken a number of outreach and educational initiatives, including a campaign to prevent falls in construction and the National Voluntary Stand Down of U.S. Onshore Oil and Gas Exploration and Production, co-sponsored by oil and gas industry employers and planned for Nov. 14."
Taking safety precautions
It was uncovered from the BP's 2005 refinery explosion that it was cheaper for the company to simply pay off the families impacted by work-related deaths than to implement more robust safety precautions. However, there is one oil company who is taking safety to a new level within the industry. Sedona Oil and Gas, an oil exploration industry leader, has been applauded by industry insiders for its commitment to safety regulations and training.
"Sedona Oil and Gas is really built on trust and honesty," said Ken Crumbley, owner of Sedona Oil and Gas. "Our safety practices are based on good communication, trust, and adherence to strict procedures. Communication is really the key. Especially on the job site where there's lots of noise, if your instinct is to scream to alert someone to a danger, it won't be effective."
Despite the accident rate for workers in the energy exploration industry decreasing by 14.5 percent in the last year, the increased activity in the U.S., particularly in the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota, has meant that more people are employed in the oil and gas industry, while the job still remains incredibly dangerous. According to OSHA's Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages report, more than 450,000 people were employed by the oil and gas industry in 2011, a number that has most likely increased. The sheer number of people makes it important for companies to adopt the highly effective management and technological solutions to keep workers safe.
Industrial Safety News brought to you by Safety Systems Technology, Inc., leaders in fire and gas detection.