Far too many workers are killed every year in the oil and gas industry. Fires and explosions often cause these unfortunate deaths. There were 80 fire-related fatalities between 2006 and 2010. Luckily, those numbers have started to decline. Between 2010 and 2015, there were only 9 deaths reported.
There’s a reason for that drop. OSHA recognizes the severity of this hazard. They’ve made an effort to try and control it. In 2010, they issued an official memo to the oil and gas industry. It outlines important new rules - rules that require workers to wear FR clothing.
Flame resistant clothing is important PPE for oil and gas industry workers. It protects them from fire hazards. Flames, embers, and flash fires can all be present in this industry. So, you need to prepare yourself and your workers. Put them in clothing that will help keep them safe.
You have plenty of options when it comes to choosing your FR clothing. Some garments are made of material that is inherently resistant to flames and embers. Other garments are treated to achieve their flame-resistant properties.
Either choice will work. The FR clothing will ignite, but it’ll self-extinguish almost immediately. So, it won’t continue to burn. It minimizes the extent of burn injuries and protects workers from further danger.
Workers who wear FR clothing have a much better chance of surviving a catastrophic event.
FR Clothing for Oil and Gas Workers
So, when should oilfield workers wear FR clothing? The memo that OSHA sent out answers that question.
According to the memo, workers need to wear it during certain phases of production.
Specifically, they’re required to wear it when:
- The drilling process hits formations or zones of hydrocarbons (oils and gases)
- Accessing or extracting the oil and gases
- Servicing active wells of any kind
- Stimulating, plugging, or capping inactive wells
- The well has been drilled, completed, and placed into operation
- The well fluids are brought to the surface and separated, stored, gauged, or otherwise prepared for product delivery
FR clothing must be worn during drilling, servicing, and production. In fact, workers need it more often than not. That’s why a lot of companies now require FR clothing as part of their standard uniform.
Employers use the OSHA General Duty Clause to help them justify that kind of requirement.
The general duty clause states the following:
“Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”
Employers must provide workers with personal protective equipment. This includes FR clothing. But, there’s more to it that just handing out pants and coveralls.
FR Face Masks
The oil fields can be a cold and harsh place to work. Temperatures often drop below zero. And the wind can be brutal. Combine those two and you’ve got some pretty extreme conditions.
FR face masks can help ease some of this discomfort. They keep employees warm. They shield them from the cold and wind. They also protect workers from fire hazards. One simple accessory like this can make all the difference.
When you think about it, face masks really should be worn more often. A person’s face is often the only thing left exposed. Coveralls provide full body protection. But not the face. And that’s something that workers will want to protect.
So, there are many benefits to wearing FR face masks.
But, here’s a big reason why they’re so important. Because not providing them could result in the death of an employee. How? Because in harsh conditions like this, workers will wear something around their face and neck. Wouldn’t you want to make sure it’s FR rated? And not something that would cause further harm?
Consider this: Your maintenance team is assigned a task that forces them to work outdoors. It’s -10 below zero and there’s a hefty wind chill. Of course they want to be as warm and comfortable as possible. But you didn’t provide them with FR face masks.
So what do they do? They grab a scarf or face mask from home. But what they end up using isn’t flame resistant. If there’s an incident that exposes them to a fire… they could be seriously hurt or even killed. Regular garments will catch fire and continue to burn. They could even melt to the workers’ faces.
Do you see the seriousness of this situation? You need to consider the alternative. Providing workers with FR face masks could prevent a horrific injury. And it could save someone’s life.
Other Cold-Weather FR
Providing workers with winter-weather clothing is important, especially in the oil and gas industry. Such clothing can prevent health issues like frostbite and hypothermia. It provides added comfort to the employees.
The oil and gas industry is filled with tough, hard-working employees. But, working in bitter cold temperatures is hard - no matter who you are. It takes a serious toll on a person’s body. So, do your part as the employer. Provide workers with clothing and gear that can withstand harsh winder environments.
Insulated bibs, jackets, and face masks can make all the difference. Remember, employees are going to wear these types of clothing anyway. So, you might as well provide it. That way, you can ensure that their clothing is FR rated and be able to protect them when and where they need it most.
Wrapping It Up
The oil and gas industry can be a dangerous place to work. The cold winter conditions can make a tough job even tougher. But, there are ways that you can help overcome the challenge of working in this industry.
Providing FR clothing and other adequate PPE is just one way for you to do that.
So do your part. Get your workers in the right gear. Educate them on the hazards of their work environment.
And get them home safe!