Generally, oil and gas are considered to be two of the most important sources of energy today. It is also true that more countries are developing their industries and their economies, the demand in these sources continues to grow. As the demand in oil products have increased, the oil industries could improved and the production performance will be increase. Therefore, the increase in oil wells is necessary to cover that. Explosions in the oil industry can case a lot of serious industrial accidents. So the health and safety protecting for employees and our natural environment are essential. In addition, health and safety at work must be a priority for everyone, especially those who work on oil rigs. This essay will first discuss the issues surrounding health and safety on UK oil rigs and will be examined by looking at real oil rig accidents. It will also provide some recommendation for health and safety issues to work in harmless conditions.
Nowadays, attention to the health and safety of workers has become a very important. There are a lot of high risk jobs and workplaces on the oil rig. The oil rigs sector is often considered as dangerous place of work in the oil business. It is also most of oil rigs on UK are in the platform that could increase the high risk occupations for the employees concerned. It is widely suggested that workers in oil rigs are always at risk because they are isolated at rig sites, even when they are off duty. Obviously that because their accommodation and workplace in the same place. Thus that increases likelihood to be at risk from accident. Moreover, we may divided the risks for oil rigs workers into three parts. One is the normal occupational risk, this depends on quality and position of place of work. The second part of the risk of major accidents, for example, fall from derricks or exposure to harmful gases such as, hydrogen sulphide (H2S).The third part of the risks involved from using transportation, such as helicopters and ships.
Firstly, the normal occupation risk that could be not much dangerous for the workers health because it is predictable problem in advance. It is also depends on the kind of work, for instance, mud engineer is probably be exposed by a dangerous chemicals and safety and health protection already be taken by use especial sensor. As Bill, F. (1991) states that "It is a little difficult to verify this as the occupational risk naturally varies with the kind of work the individual worker is performing, e.g. the risk to roughneck is different from the risk to one of the catering personnel" (p.10).
There are numerous issues may cause health problems for the employees, now many of them can be expected. Noise and vibration is likely to be hazardous at work. While the oil rigs engine and equipment is working twenty four hours that may cause hearing problems after long term. In this case we have to consider all people at work, who might be exposed, included catering staff. According to the World Health Organisation exposure to noise accrues hearing damage.
In addition, another normal risk that may causes from very bad weather conditions. As the oil rigs are working twenty four hours and may have to work outdoors in bad weather. Therefore, strong wind can cause serious damage to the rig itself and workers on it. Also rain, snow and high waves can make working outside and operations particularly dangerous. For example, in 1980 a previously undetected crack in one leg of the Alexander Kielland oil rig caused it until overturn when it was hit by a large wave in the North Sea. One hundred and twenty three people were killed and many more were injured.
Secondly, the most essential issues that could cause major accidents in the rig site. In the oil rigs involved to drill and extract oil and gas from wells and that can be very hazardous, because there are high pressure and high temperature produced during that operations. Every drilling rig should have appropriate system to control and prevent all of gases and flammable material that may be encountered in the oil wells. In addition, leakage of gases not only could causes explosion but also cause adverse health to employees. Exposure of workers to some toxic gases, such as, hydrogen sulphide (H2S) may lead to death. The extent of effect to employees depends on, how long and what level of concentrations by hydrogen sulphide. In addition, low concentrations would lead to irritation of nose, eyes or throat, more concentrations will leads to more eye sore and headache, coughing, dizziness and difficult breathing. While high concentrations of hydrogen sulphide certainly will cause unable to breathe, shock and death. Also gases and smoke which come from oil wells testing that is vary hazardous. According to Kandola & Morris. (1994),
"In an offshore oil and gas production environment where large quantities of hydrocarbon fuels are handled, fire and smoke hazards are a serious problem. Under emergency situations it is required to maintain the breathability of air inside a temporary refuge or the accommodation quarters unite such time that escape and evacuation is complete ( usually up to one or two hours )" (p. 173).
It is also for employee's health and safety may be necessary to consider the following hazards, such as, fall of person from high, a fall an object from high and manual handling. The equipment in the drilling rig can be so heavy and not easy to handle, some workers have to work for longer hours and they might make a mistake. Therefore, any a small mistake could lead to a serious injury. Regular inspection must be constantly for the rig equipment and tools to be safe to use.
Finally, there are another important safety issues to be considered that transportations. In spite of the fact that oil rigs have improved their safety system in workplace, unfortunately still there are a major problem can be accrued from transportations. People who work in oil rigs have to travel from and to the rig every one week or two weeks depends on their schedule that would involved risk for them. Moreover, the frequency of risk will increase from very bad weather. For example, on Wednesday afternoon in the firs of April 2009, there was one of the most disaster accidents, helicopter crash, when the Super Puma helicopter crashed fourteen mile from Peterhead, sixteen people were died. Therefore, the accident of this kind considered as the worst one, not only this will cause to death, but also could result to upset to workers themselves.
However, the key to reducing these problems seems to segregate the employees from the dangers. To do that the employers have to apply some safety instruction. Controlling of substances hazardous to health that is some thing essential, for instance, provide appropriate personal protective equipment at work. Also use manual handling operations, principles step should always be considered in handling activities. In addition, compulsory safety training stage must be taken by every worker, for example, for the employees to fulfil risk assessment. It is also required insurance against accident and illness health at work. As Stranks, J. (1998) states "The health and safety (Information for Employees) Regulations 1989 re-quire information relating to health, safety and welfare to be furnished to employees by means of posters or leaflets in the form approved and published for the purposes of the regulations by HSE" (p.26).
Furthermore, the employee's health and safety in the oil company today have strong rules. On the UK oil companies now demonstrated this by reducing the accident in oil rigs. They have to adhere by the legislation restricted in the health and safety at work. Group from Health and Safety Executive regularly visits oil rigs and plat form to keep safety rules up to date, also to check standard tools inspection.
In conclusion, given the point of view which is detailed above. Generally, it is thought that the oil rigs sector is considered as one of the highest dangerous work places. This essay has discussed the issues surrounding health and safety on UK oil rigs, it is also has pointed the some real accidents in North Sea oil rigs. However, as mentioned above, there are various issues in oil rigs that could have an effect on employee's health and safety. Although the attention of health and safety are become essential in the oil rigs, still many unforeseen industrial accident could be accrued. Moreover, the oil companies must improve their safety and have to invest in the health of their sites, for example, compulsory training for everyone who works in rig site is important. In particular, unless the health and safety regulation abided by the oil companies, accident risk will be increase. However, health and safety in the oil rigs is a very huge subject that seems to require a lot of research and investigation will that is not easy to considered in one essay.
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