A common mantra among many industrial companies and workers is “safety first.” Without it profit margins are reduced, equipment and ecosystems damaged and lives potentially lost. On most job sites, education is paramount in order to avoid unnecessary risks and harm. Adequate environment safety training can increase profits, preserve equipment, and reduce onsite accidents and fatalities.
Last year, Huffington Post reported that offshore deaths in the oil and gas industry were seven times higher than those in the U.S. The report noted that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had examined fatalities between 2003 and 2010 citing that 65 out of the 128 fatalities were related to poor safety measures in transportation, 49 of which had to do with helicopter transportation.
In an effort to reduce such fatalities, environmental safety training has been developed and implemented with a focus on piloting helicopters through inclement weather, which has nullified the fatality rate in that area.
The Huffington Post report is somewhat misleading though. For instance, an in-depth report published this past winter by NPR revealed that the spurts of growth in the oil and gas industries are causing a rise in job related fatalities.
Citing an employment increase of 23% between 2009 and 2012, NPR noted that the fatality rates doubled and postulated that the blame likely lies within the realm of inexperience. Lengthy hours, employee shortages, and either poor quality or low levels of environmental safety training were all cited as possible causes in the report.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offer a variety of basic online courses that cover an assortment of environmental safety training topics from spill prevention and countermeasures to the clean air and clean water acts. The private sector also provides a wide range of training.
Additionally the American Petroleum Institute (API) has taken great strides in the last few decades to support the development and accessibility of environmental safety training for all industry employees on even more in depth topics such as climate changes, process safety, and environmental performance.
Furthermore, Texas, a hub of the industry has even created an online collection of free resources to aid in the continual environmental safety training of industry employees. The support of institutes such as OSHA and API and TDI helps to educate business owners and employees as to what training their employees need and how to access it.
Still, even with affordable and available education programs, when high quality environmental safety training is not given promptly to new employees and regularly to experienced employees, a range of consequences can occur. Many times, fatalities occur because of just one person’s actions, exhibiting a lack of environmental safety training or oversight in the application thereof.
However, poor practices in getting environmental safety training to employees can be hazardous to non-industry employees as well and dangerous to entire communities and ecosystems.
Citing “inadequate assessment and management of risks,” the U.S. Coast Guard’s recently released report on Shell’s Alaskan Kulluk rig. According to a report on the news release by the National Geographic, the blame fell on improper configuration of fuel tanks, which led to the rig running aground and to contamination of seawater.
The accident could have easily been avoided had the right environmental safety training in spill prevention been in place. Such contamination, like that created by the infamous BP oil spill, have long ranging effects on the environment, nearby industries, and the health of civilians.
Clearly, environmental safety training is of the utmost importance. As the industry experiences rapid growth from new technologies such as horizontal drilling, growth in safety training must correspond in order to avoid the tragedy of fatalities and spills.