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The most common causes of oilfield accidents

Oilfields can be dangerous places to work. The work done there is essential to keep our infrastructure running and all developed nations need access to petroleum. Unfortunately, it is an activity that cannot be done in complete safety. The potential for accidents exists at any site where drilling is occurring, or indeed anywhere where heavy machinery is running.

Among the hazards that are commonly faced by those searching for oil are sudden explosions, hazardous chemicals becoming airborne, and areas where dangerous falls are possible.

The occupational health and safety administration (OSHA) monitors statistics relevant to workplace safety. They found that in one year alone there were 4,000 injuries sustained by workers working at various oilfields around the United States; of those 4,000, one hundred resulted in death.

Many of these deaths were the result of negligence and in a shocking number of cases, the drilling company failed to provide its employees with the necessary training and or equipment to allow them to work safely.

Explosions

During the routine drilling that occurs at an oilfield, it is normal for vapors to be released into the air. These vapors can build up and even a small spark can then trigger a massive explosion. Vapors can also fill storage containers and ultimately cause them to rupture if the appropriate safety precautions are not taken.

Explosions can cause some of the most serious injuries seen in oilfield accidents. Those who work on such sites should be aware that if they are injured they can hire a specialist attorney to help them seek compensation.

Fires

Fires at an oilfield are usually the result of gasses and vapors coming into contact with sparks and other ignition sources. The nature of the environment, one in which there are a variety of flammable materials out in the open, makes binging fires under control a challenging task.

In order to tackle fires that break out on an oilfield, firefighters must keep their distance due to the risk of an explosion while they attempt to contain and extinguish the blaze. The techniques used are very different to the way that firefighters usually tackle fires. They often begin by setting off explosives to generate shockwaves on the Earth’s surface. This shockwave puts distance between the area of the fire and any land which has yet to be affected.

Equipment malfunctions

Equipment malfunctions can contribute to both explosions and fires, or they can be a safety hazard in their own right. It is essential that all equipment is regularly inspected and properly maintained in order to ensure that workers are operating in a safe environment.

Similarly, it is absolutely essential that workers receive the proper and correct training for any equipment that they use and if there are any doubts over their ability to use equipment safely, that they are dissuaded from doing so.

Oilfields have the potential to be very dangerous for workers. The consequences of neglect and improper safety procedures can be very serious to both individuals and the site as a whole. Fortunately, most oilfields do take their obligations seriously and there is a relatively minor risk of injury or death.

9 Oct 2017 15:12

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