Slip, trip, and fall hazards are a leading cause of nonfatal and fatal injuries in the oil and gas industry. To protect employees and minimize workplace injuries, business owners should implement fall prevention strategies. Keep reading to learn about common fall hazards and the prevention methods you can use to offset risks.
Common Fall Hazards in the Oil and Gas Industry
There are many ways for oil and gas workers to injure themselves from a slip, trip, and fall hazard, and those injuries can range from minor to fatal. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that slips, trips, and falls caused 23.8% of nonfatal injuries in 2020, indicating that employers need to take steps to reduce these hazards.
Here are a few common slip, trip, and fall hazards that affect workers in the oil and gas industry.
Slipping on Oil and Water
Walkways and surfaces can get very slippery on an oil rig. Rain, snow, and leaks from oil and gas equipment can contribute to these slippery conditions and create a dangerous environment. Slip and fall accidents can cause broken bones, head injuries, cuts and bruises, muscle strains, and joint damage.
Falling From Ladders, Stairs, or Platforms
Employees in the oil and gas industry often have to work on an elevated platform, which puts them at risk for falls. These falls from stairs, ladders, and platforms are often fatal. Research from the CDC suggests that over 50% of fatalities in the oil and gas industry from 2005 to 2014 were caused by a fall of more than 30 feet. In 56% of these fatalities, workers were not using the required safety equipment.
Tripping on Objects in Walkways
When workers leave tools, equipment, cords, and supplies in walkways, other employees can trip on the objects and fall. Like slipping injuries, these can range from minor to severe. In 2020, workers took a median of 11 days away from work following a trip and same-level fall.
Fall Prevention Strategies
Slip, trip, and fall hazards may be common, but they’re largely preventable. With the right measures, you can reduce workplace injuries and create a safer environment for your employees.
Use the Right Oil and Gas Safety Equipment
Preventing slip, trip, and fall injuries begins with the proper safety equipment.
- Slip-resistant footwear: All workers should wear slip-resistant footwear to prevent falls. While shoes can’t stop all falls, they can reduce slipping injuries during rainy or snowy weather and keep workers safe when there’s a leak.
- Personal protective equipment (PPE), like hard hats and eye protection: If workers slip and fall, PPE can prevent injuries from becoming significant. Hard hats can shield workers from serious head injuries, and safety glasses protect the face and eyes during a fall.
- Fall arrest systems: When oil and gas workers climb stairs and ladders and work on elevated surfaces, they should use personal fall prevention systems. These systems include a full-body harness and a self-retracting lanyard that attaches to an anchor point. During a fall, the self-retracting lanyard immediately stops letting out slack, which keeps workers suspended until another person can rescue them.
- Non-slip mats and grating: In addition to keeping working areas free from tripping hazards, you should place non-slip mats and grating in areas that tend to get wet or slippery. However, these measures work best when you regularly remove excess liquid from walking surfaces, so maintenance is crucial.
- Guardrails: In any area where a slip or trip is possible, oil and gas businesses should install guardrails to prevent falls.
Signage: If there are any areas on the oil rig with large holes or fall hazards that are difficult to see, you should place signage alerting employees.
Does your oil and gas business need help complying with OSHA safety guidelines? Bring in the experts at InSource.
Add an Extra Level of Safety With Secondary Fall Protection
When employees begin working on an elevated platform, they should always use at least one fall prevention system. However, because fall risks are still present with one form of fall protection, you should require a secondary fall protection system—another self-retracting lanyard—to catch workers if the first one fails. This extra layer of protection can save workers from potentially fatal falls.
Perform Regular Maintenance
Conditions can change quickly on an oil rig. A walkway that was clear 15 minutes ago could get covered with slick oil after a leak, and a ladder could lose a rung. While inspecting the rig every few minutes might not be feasible, it’s important to perform regular maintenance.
Here are a few items and areas you should inspect for slip, trip, and fall hazards:
- Oil and gas equipment, which can leak if not maintained
- Fall prevention systems, which can wear over time
- Non-slip mats
If workers notice a hazard on the oil rig, you should take steps to remove it immediately. Promptly cleaning up spills, replacing broken equipment, and eliminating trip hazards can protect your workers and reduce your workers’ compensation claims.
Need Help Reducing Your Slip, Trip, and Fall Hazards?
Implementing fall reduction strategies is an effective way to reduce injuries and protect your employees. However, many companies don’t have the resources or expertise to create an effective safety plan. If you need an expert’s help reducing slip, trip, and fall hazards on your Texas oil rig, turn to InSource.
We’ve been helping Texas businesses reduce their risks for decades, and we specialize in insurance and risk management for the oil and gas industry. Whether you need safety consulting, a new insurance policy, or both, our experienced team members will find the best solutions for your business.
Contact our team today to learn more about our slip, trip, and fall hazard management and insurance for the oil and gas industry.