Why it Matters
Falls are a major cause of serious injuries and fatalities in the Oil & Gas sector.
In fact, the US Department of the Interior estimates that more than a third of fatalities in the Oil & Gas industry are due to falls, slips, and trips.
Falls have indeed been identified as a significant risk posed to workers in the midstream sector, in particular.
So, what steps should be taken to minimize the risk of falls?
How to Mitigate Risk
The following are five key safety tips to help prevent accidents on the job:
1. Provide all workers with fall risk training.
Workers must be able to recognize potential fall hazards, especially when working at heights that are six feet above a lower level.
Meanwhile, it is also important that training covers topics such as eliminating misuse, understanding regulations, and practicing rescue.
In addition, an intensive two or three-day course, often coined ‘competent person training,’ is the recommended starting point for training employees on fall protection systems, for example.
Trainers should simulate real-world scenarios and break them into steps that can be easily managed. Once all hazards are identified, they can be carefully planned for.
2. Take precautions with extension ladders.
Research has shown that ladders are involved in 20% of fall injuries among workers.
Extension ladders, in particular, pose significant risks. To minimize the risks associated with extension ladders it is important to:
- Inspect all extension ladders before use in order to identify any defects such as missing rungs, bolts, cleats, screws, and loose components.
- Take defective ladders out of service immediately.
- Do not take extension ladders apart to make two smaller ladders.
- Place extension ladders at a safe angle to avoid slipping or tripping.
- Maintain three points of contact when climbing an extension ladder — either two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand.
- Do not over-extend yourself to either side of the ladder, this can cause you to lose balance and shift the ladder away from yourself.
- Always take note of the manufacturers’ warnings for the specific type of ladder you are using.
- Always place ladders at a safe angle and block the area with cones or warning signs to avoid displacement in busy areas.
3. Ensure floor holes are protected or guarded.
Floor holes are an example of a hazard that is often overlooked by workers. It is vital workers take steps to protect themselves and their co-workers.
Floor holes can be guarded or protected via the use of guardrails and covers, for example.
Top tips for minimizing the risks posed by floor holes include:
- Inspect walking and working areas for potential floor holes.
- Ensure guardrails used around floor holes meet guidelines for preventing falls to lower levels and are erected on all unprotected sides or edges.
- Ensure that hole covers — when used to protect employees — are able to support twice the weight of the employees, equipment, and their materials.
- Covers should be color-coded or marked either ‘Hole’ or ‘Cover,’ for example.
4. Use fall restraint systems.
A properly configured fall restraint system will keep a worker’s center of mass at least 1.5 meters away from a fall hazard. A fall restraint system has a major advantage over a fall arrest system in that it is not possible for a worker to fall if it is set up correctly. Not having the risk of a fall means that a rescue plan isn’t required.
Working in a location where the possibility of falls has been eliminated is always the best option. This is not because fall arrest systems are not safe, it is because the potential exists for injuries to occur during the arrest process.
5. Use fall arrest systems.
Fall arrest systems should be a last resort. If you are prepared to allow falls to occur during the normal course of work, it is important that the correct protection is in place and adequate training is provided. It is vital to ensure that:
- Adequate fall clearances exist
- Swing fall risks are considered
- Proper connecting equipment is selected
However, it is important to remember that, while fall arrest systems may save your life, there is no guarantee they will eliminate injuries. Fall restraints will limit your movement, but they will also reduce the possibility of injury.
Get in Touch
At Workrise, quality and safety are our top priorities. We offer more than 200 flexible safety, compliance, and HSE training courses online and in person. Together, we will find the right courses to ensure the workers on your job site meet your requirements.
Let us help you with training, staffing, technology, and professional services so you can get back to focusing on what you do best. Visit our website at workrise.com.
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