Workers involved in oil and gas production are exposed to a significant risk of death or injury from being struck by various objects in the workplace. A significant portion of all work related injuries and fatalities in the oil and gas industry involve workers being struck in the eyes, head, face, hand, and or feet by foreign objects.
Two major factors causing these injuries have been identified:
Management has an obligation to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees. The PPE provided should include equipment for the eyes, face, head, and extremities. Protective clothing and barriers should also be provided. The employer should make sure employees use and maintain PPE in a sanitary and reliable condition.
Defective or damaged personal protective equipment should not be used. It's important to inspect PPE regularly, and before each use to make sure it's capable of adequately protecting an employee from exposure to hazards. Remember, PPE that is defective...is not PPE.
A hazard assessment should be conducted prior to the use of PPE because it produces the information needed to select the appropriate PPE for any hazards present or likely to be present on an oil and gas facility.
It is a performance-oriented provision that simply requires management to use their awareness of workplace hazards to enable them to select the appropriate PPE for the work being performed.
Protective hardhats for head protection against impact blows should be able to withstand penetration and absorb the shock of a blow. In some cases hardhats should also protect against electric shock. Recognized standards for hardhats have been established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
Head and facial hair should not interfere with normal work activities or respiratory protection equipment (RPE).
Workers with long hair that may create a hazard from being snagged should be required to keep it contained in an appropriate manner.
Eye protection should be routinely considered for use by many professions including: carpenters, electricians, machinists, mechanics, millwrights, plumbers and pipefitters, sheet metal workers and tinsmiths, assemblers, sanders, grinding machine operators, sawyers, welders, laborers, and chemical process operators and handlers.
Examples of potential eye or face injuries include:
Noise-induced hearing loss is the term for hearing damaged by exposure to excessive noise. The damage to hearing caused by too much noise may not be apparent for years.
Workers can damage hearing if they are continually exposed to noise greater than 85 decibels more than eight hours. As noise levels rise above 85 decibels, the safe exposure time for unprotected ears falls dramatically. For example, 110-decibel noise can impair hearing after just 15 minutes of exposure.
A qualified person should evaluate the hazards due to noise in the workplace using one of the following three methods:
Preformed or molded ear plugs should be individually fitted by a professional. Waxed cotton, foam or fiberglass wool earplugs are self-forming. Disposable earplugs should be used once and thrown away; non-disposable ones should be cleaned after each use for proper maintenance.
Respirators are devices that protect employees from inhaling harmful substances, including chemical, biological, and radiological agents. These substances can be in the form of airborne vapors, gases, dust, fogs, fumes, mists, smokes, or sprays.
Some respirators also ensure that employees do not breathe air that contains dangerously low levels of oxygen or that is otherwise immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH), (e.g., life-threatening exposures during interior structural firefighting.)
Respirators may be used to provide protection during routine operations where engineering controls and work practices are not able to provide sufficient protection from these hazards, or in emergencies.
When using respiratory protective equipment:
Burns, cuts, electrical shock, amputation and absorption of chemicals are examples of hazards associated with arm and hand injuries. A wide assortment of gloves, hand pads, sleeves and wristlets for protection from these hazards should be made available to employees.
Hand protection should be selected to fit the specific task. Rubber is considered the best material for insulating gloves and sleeves and should conform to ANSI.
Jewelry or other adornments that may cause an injury from snagging or hanging should not be worn when exposed to moving parts or electrical hazards.
The accident occurred when the individual was jumping off the side of an Army tow truck. He placed his hand on the railing of the bed and jumped off. The ring caught on the side of truck bed. Upon reaching the ground, the ring had removed all the skin from the finger, leaving the muscles, bone and fingernail exposed.
The individual was rushed to an emergency room where the finger was inserted into the wall of the stomach area. A pedicle graft was performed using the skin from the stomach area. After more than eight operations and over a 100 plus days in the hospital the finger is semi useable. The stomach skin on the ring finger is more sensitive than the other finger's skin. (Source: OR-OSHA)
Foot protection is necessary for protection against falling or rolling objects, sharp objects, molten metal, hot surfaces and wet, slippery surfaces.
Workers exposed to these hazards should use:
Safety shoes should be sturdy and have an impact- resistant toe. Shoes should meet ANSI standards.
Many hazards can threaten the torso: heat, splashes from hot metals and liquids, impacts, cuts, acids, and radiation. A variety of protective clothing is available, including:
Fire retardant wool and specially treated cotton clothing items are comfortable, and they adapt well to a variety of workplace temperatures. Other types of protection include leather, rubberized fabrics, and disposable suits.
Make sure proper protective clothing is worn during hazardous work tasks. Never wear clothing that contains or is saturated with any flammable, hazardous or irritating substance(s). Remove, such clothing immediately, wash any affected areas on the skin, and replace with suitable clothing.
Loose or poorly fitted clothing should never be worn when working around moving parts, or tasks where clothing may become snagged.
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