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Oil Field Hazards and How to Avoid Them

In the oil extraction industry, workers engage in a multitude of different industrial processes that are needed to successfully drill and service a well. These processes generally come with health and safety hazards that can result in serious injury or sometimes even fatalities. In today’s blog we want to highlight three of the most common oil field hazards and go over how to avoid them.

Struck-By, Caught-In and Caught-Between Oil Field Hazards

According to OSHA, most incidents in the oil extraction industry are the result of struck-by, caught-in and caught-between hazards. Daily, extraction workers are exposed to these types of oil field hazards–more specifically fast-moving vehicles, rotating wellhead equipment, conveyors, high-pressure lines and other heavy equipment/machinery which can cause injuries. Struck-by accidents are when there is forcible contact or impact between a person and an object or piece of equipment. Caught-in and caught-between accidents are considered the same. They happen when a person has been squeezed, pinched or crushed between two or more objects or pieces of equipment.

The top four ways to avoid these types of accidents are listed below:  

  1. Be familiar with the equipment. Know where the pinch, wrap and crush points are located, as well as pull-in areas.
  2. Chock the wheels on equipment that could move or roll.
  3. Leave space for an exit route to prevent being pinned between two objects.
  4. Wear proper PPE. Wear close fitting clothing, tuck in shirts, no jewelry and no gloves unless confirmed with a supervisor.


Most often extraction workers must climb onto an elevated deck where they spend most of their working day. Though, there are some workers that are required to access platforms and equipment located higher above the deck. This is when most face the greatest risk of falling. OSHA regulation states that anyone who is working from heights of four feet or more needs to use a “fall protection system.” A fall protection system consists of the basic “ABC’s”–an Anchor, Body harness and Connectors. 

Other methods that employers use to prevent employees from being injured from falls include:

  1. Use railings, toe-boards and floor hole covers to guard every floor hole that an employee could accidently walk over or fall into.
  2. Provide a guard rail and toe-board around every elevated open side platform.
  3. Use other means of protection such as harnesses, safety lines and safety nets.

High Pressure Lines and Equipment Hazards

Generally, pressure vessels and the pressure lines attached have been designed to operate at pressures above 15 pounds per square inch gauge, or PSIG. When these vessels or lines become cracked and damaged, it can result in leaks or rupture failures. Hazards associated with leaks or ruptures are poisonings, suffocations, fires and explosions–which can all be avoided with routine equipment inspections and maintenance. 

Want to dive a bit deeper into oil field hazards and regulations? Click here to check out this OSHA article for more information. 

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