The creator of the Golden Gate Bridge, Joseph Strauss, is considered to be one of the pioneers of modern workmen’s safety. In the 1930s, the lead engineer on the project was determined to protect his men. Putting strict safety procedures and rules into place, Strauss’ efforts over the course of the four year project kept on-site fatalities to just 11 men.
Workers wore hard hats and tethers with the added security of a safety net beneath the bridge as backup. Additionally,GoldenGateBridge.org notes, “Safety measures also included glare-free goggles, special hand and face cream to protect against the wind, and special diets to help fight dizziness.” Workers were reminded of safety measures and, according to PBS, were even threatened with termination if they drank alcohol.
Today, such safety precautions and training are commonplace and it is difficult to even imagine an industrial company without safety training and regulations. But it wasn’t until 1971 that The U.S. Department of Labor created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to aid in the development of educational programs, employer awareness, and safety regulations to protect American workers and business owners.
The introduction to the timeline of OSHA’s history notes that:
“It is estimated that in 1970 around 14,000 workers were killed on the job. That number fell to approximately 4,340 in 2009…At the same time, U.S. employment has almost doubled and now includes over 130 million workers at more than 7.2 million worksites. Since the passage of the OSH Act, the rate of reported serious workplace injuries and illnesses has declined from 11 per 100 workers in 1972 to 3.6 per 100 workers in 2009.”
Preventing on-the-job fatalities and injuries is the most obvious and most important goal of safety training, but its rewards extend far beyond the physical safety of employees.
1. Preventing Fatalities – According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the oil and gas industry in 2012 saw 26 fatalities, which is double the 13 fatalities in 2011 and 12 fatalities each in 2010 and 2009.
For the last few decades increasing awareness of the importance of safety training and safety procedures has helped to reduce fatalities but one major oversight in following OSHA regulations or failure to train the influx of new workers in the recent waves of oil and gas booms can result in loss of life on the worksite.
2. Preventing Injuries – The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the number of work related illnesses or injuries over the last four years of collected data (between 2009 and 2012) at 1 to 1.5 per 100 employees. About 1 out of 100 employees will miss work due to these illnesses or injuries.
From courses on avoiding back injuries to Job Hazard Analysis training to general OSHA safety training, educating employees is responsible for keeping these numbers low and for continuing to drive them even lower. When fatality and injury rates are reduced or eliminated, work sites can function at higher levels of production efficiency.
3. Efficient Production – When workers are injured on the job, production slows. Investing in training for Job Safety Analysis can equip employees with skills and knowledge to deal effectively with work hazards. By avoiding bodily harm, they ensure their physical ability to continue working. In the case of highly trained or experienced individuals or specialists in the oil and gas field this is especially important in maintaining productivity levels necessary to meet the market’s high energy demands.
Additionally, when equipment is not properly maintained production slows. Safety regulations do more than ensure the safety of workers who operate or interact with industrial machines and parts. Trained specialists perform regular maintenance checks that keep the machines running not only safety, but efficiently. Leaks or fractures in pipes, bacteria buildup within pipes, corrosion or rust to metal surfaces all pose safety threats as well as reducing the productivity levels of equipment.
4. Longevity of Equipment – Similar to the need to maintain the safety of equipment to ensure efficient productivity, the precautions of trained specialists also maintains the longevity of equipment. Routine maintenance checks and the replacement of damaged or aging pats can help to prolong the life of equipment.
Helping to avoid destruction of equipment, and consequently protecting the physical safety of employees as well, hydrogen sulfide training is one of many educational safety programs employers offer to oil and gas professionals. Hydrogen sulfide is a highly flammable colorless gas capable of spontaneously combusting in the air. OSHA recommends comprehensive training on how to recognize, to increase awareness of safety procedures and practices, and how to use equipment for protection against and monitoring of hydrogen sulfide.
Such training programs in this and dozens of other destructive situations can help to reduce threats, such as fires or explosions, which in turn reduces damage to expensive equipment and prolongs its longevity.
5. Protecting the Environment – Fires, as in the case of hydrogen sulfide explained above, are not only a threat to the equipment and employees on a work site but to the site itself. Safety training on Fire Protection helps to increase awareness of the threat and the proper precautions and procedures to prevent widespread damage to the environment and ecosystems around work sites should a fire occur.
Additional training for environmental concerns such as Stormwater Pollution Prevention and Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) incorporate safety measures into the daily practice of busy worksites. Knowing that the industry is taking steps to educate all of its employees through Environmental Safety Training programs helps to ensure public trust and to prevent environmental disasters.
From the simplest maintenance procedures to personal safety equipment, extensive safety training contributes greatly to keeping fatality and injury rates low, boosting production rates, and preserving our natural environment.
SRP Environmental offers a wide variety of safety training courses including Defensive Driving Simulator training, Fire Safety/Fire Extinguisher training, First Aid/CPR Training, Forklift/Manlift training, OSHA training and more.