Drilling It Safely
The oil and gas industry is one of the safest industries for workers, and getting safer all the time. US government statistics clearly demonstrate that workers in oil and gas are far safer than those in manufacturing, coal mining, construction, or general private industry. Further, worker injuries have plummeted 45 percent in oil and gas. Through strong programs of worker training, a laser focus on safety and building strong safety cultures, and advanced technology, the oil and gas industry stands as one of world’s safest.
A drilling rig is a complex piece of machinery designed for a single purpose — to drill oil, gas or geothermal wells.
Because it often operates in an environment of elevated pressures and temperatures, and employs very large pieces of equipment, outside observers might assume that the upstream oil and gas industry is more hazardous than other industries. A closer look, however, reveals a very different reality.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, despite adding thousands of jobs from 2006 to 2016, the injuries incidence rate for the oil and gas industry fell by 45% and was significantly lower than other comparable U.S. industries in each of those ten years.
Training is a critical factor in the oil and gas industry’s safety success. Proper training helps instill in workers a habit of safety. Often, sophisticated simulators are used, in addition to traditional classroom instruction. The International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC) and others have developed guidelines and certification standards that help companies provide their employees with effective and up-to-date safety and competency training programs.
These training programs and other efforts aimed at heightening safety awareness across the drilling industry have had the desired effect. Safety continues to improve. In 2016, safety incidents fell by 28 percent from the previous year –nearly a third, according to industry data.
During 2017, IADC issued more than 100,000 certificates to industry professionals who have completed training in rig safety and in well control.
Technology also plays a key role. Recent advances in sensor technology, data transmission, and automation have added another layer of safety to drilling operations. Such equipment alerts the crew in real time to changes in operating conditions, such as pressure changes and equipment malfunctions.
Through strong programs of worker training, a laser focus on safety, and advanced technology, the oil and gas industry stands as one of world’s safest.