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7 min read

Setting the Benchmark for Safety in Oil and Gas

The global oil and gas industry is dealing with constant challenges and demands of an industry in transition. While trying to adapt to challenging environments, continually meet supplier and consumer demands and navigate changes in economic markets - one thing remains constant - the need to prioritise safety.

Oil and gas worker taking notes

Safety practices powered by Standards 

Companies working in oil and gas must meet various and constantly changing Standards to ensure safety requirements are met. From operating powerful equipment, working with chemicals, completing procedures in hazardous conditions to working in remote locations - companies and workers must navigate these challenges daily.  

Small, seemingly insignificant oversights can quickly escalate, resulting in unexpected situations with potentially dangerous outcomes. When risks are not properly managed, it can lead to devastating consequences to the company (e.g. a drop in brand reputation, financial loss, decreased productivity) as well as personal consequences (e.g. workplace accidents and physical injuries). 

There are three major areas of focus in order to maintain a safe environment within this industry. These include personal, workplace and equipment safety. 

1. Personal safety

Meeting personal safety requirements includes a variety of processes and policies, i.e. ongoing training and proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), to ensure workers understand their roles and follow set procedures that directly affect their safety and wellbeing.  

Personal safety includes the responsibility of the person themselves, as well as management facilitating a safe environment through proper training and programs. This includes training for proper use of PPE - as it is essential in most, if not all, tasks in the oil and gas industry.  

Establishing strong communication channels and clear procedures to maintain safety is essential to keep employees up to date with any changes relating to their jobs and safety.  

Employees must be able to understand, identify and reduce risks through set procedures in all tasks. There are specific Oil & Gas Standards to help minimise safety risks. For example:

  • ANSI/ASSE Z117.1:2009 specifies minimum safety requirements to be followed while entering, exiting and working in confined spaces. 

  • ANSI/ASSE Z359.2:2017 establishes minimum requirements for a comprehensive managed fall protection program. 

  • ISO 16602:2007(R2014) establishes minimum performance classification and labelling requirements for protective clothing designed to provide protection against chemicals.

2. Workplace safety 

Workplace safety refers to the various environments' employees are exposed to daily. Strategies must identify and reduce risks as well as address incidents swiftly as they arise.  

Two important International Standards include the risk management Standard ISO 31000 which assists an organisation of any size to identify and act against potential risks.  ISO 45001 which specifies requirements for an occupational health and safety (OH&S) management system, enabling organisations to provide safe workplaces by preventing work-related injury and ill health. 

Workplace safety also refers to the structures and buildings, i.e. oil wells, onshore and offshore structures, which must meet appropriate Standards to operate. Key Standards that help develop best practice safety systems and processes in structures and buildings include:  

  • ISO 10418:2019 provides objectives, functional requirements and guidelines for techniques for the analysis and design of surface process safety systems for offshore installations in the petroleum and natural gas industries.  

  • ISO 17776:2016 provides the processes for major accident hazard management during the design of new installations for offshore oil and gas production installations.

3. Equipment safety 

Equipment safety requirements are important to ensure machinery, technology and other equipment perform efficiently and safely. Proper use of machinery is essential to ensure employee safety, as well as ongoing maintenance and testing to help identify potential risks. 

Notable equipment safety Standards include: 

  • ISO 12100:2010(R2015) which describes basic terminology, principles and a methodology for achieving safety in the design of machinery for risk assessment and risk reduction.  

  • ISO 13854:2017 relates to the safety of machinery to specify minimum gaps to avoid crushing parts of the user's body. 

Reaching new technological heights, safely 

Fluctuating demand now and in the future will drive the creation and adoption of new technologies to improve traditional industry methods and productivity.  

Thorough testing, quality and performance checking helps provide a benchmark for the technology, where standardisation can set clear guidance for use and expected results.  

The importance of Standards in the oil and gas industry 

In a dynamic and challenging environment, standardisation plays a major role in setting the benchmark for objectives, outcomes and processes. Standards provide the guidance and framework for businesses looking to improve their operations and practices in any field or area.  

Utilising and benefiting from Standards within the oil and gas industry can assist with the transition towards creating a flexible and resilient organisation, but importantly prioritising the safety and wellbeing of employees and wider community. 

A safe road forward for oil and gas 

Taking the right steps to ensure personal, workplace and equipment safety creates an environment that enhances productivity, reduces business costs and keeps workers safe. 

More than ever, companies around the world are discovering the power and value of Standards to provide greater consistency of safety practices.

Discover how access to the right management Standards through a subscription can improve your organisation today.
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