Five Ways the Oil and Gas Industry Promotes a Strong Safety Culture

By Carrie Jordan, President, DJ Basin Safety Council

I work as a safety consultant in many industries, including oil and gas, construction, manufacturing, trucking, and underground utilities. Working with many different industries I get to engage in different safety cultures. I see a widespread willingness to ensure safety, provide training and equipment in the oil and gas industry.

There are many ways to ensure safety is at the forefront of oil and gas operations every day, including state and federal regulations designed to protect employees and the environment. In my experience these are five strategies that assist companies working on a site foster a strong safety culture.

  1. Employee Orientation and Personal Protective Equipment

Mandatory orientations for each employee are required prior to employees even being allowed to enter the location, such as the SafeLandUSA Basic Orientation, and operator specific orientations for each company.  All sites require mandatory personal protective equipment including safety glasses, hard hats, steel toed boots and FR clothing – if you do not wear the right stuff you are not allowed on site. During the downturn in oil and gas I have witnessed employees moving into construction companies and taking these small but meaningful safety habits with them – a testament to this industry’s strong safety culture.

  1. Job Safety Analysis

Most companies perform daily task reviews called job safety analysis forms (JSA’s) that must be completed prior to any work being conducted. JSA’s have to be reviewed by all employees to ensure everyone is on the same page on job steps, hazards and how those hazards are controlled. This ten-minute exercise allows for communication, questions, and ensures everyone is working together.

  1. Issuing Stop Work Authority

Stop Work Authority allows anyone who sees a potential safety hazard to bring it to the attention of everyone on site and stop work to correct the issue before work resumes. While not always popular to stop the job, issuing a stop work order can protect someone from a hazard or save a life.

  1. Reviewing Near Misses and Injuries

Unfortunately, injuries or near miss incidents do occur. When these do happen, employers, producers, and subcontractors share that information with their networks and pass it on to organizations like the DJ Basin Safety Council to distribute and talk about so we can learn from others.  This proactive process of review helps safeguard others who may encounter similar situations.

  1. Vetting Subcontractors

Safety is at the forefront of nearly every operation, every day, for companies working on an oil and gas site. Subcontractors are selected through a safety record evaluation process to ensure companies that gain contracts to work on site have a safety program in place. Contractor management and oversight is taken very seriously. If you do not have a good safety record you are not going to be selected to work.

All industries and work types have some type of risk involved and not all companies or industries take safety seriously or make it an inherent part of every day’s operations. That’s not the case in the oil and gas industry. I have seen an industry wide acceptance and willingness to ensure the overall safety culture in one that I am proud to be a part of.

About Carrie Jordan and the DJ Basin Safety Council

The DJ Basin Safety Council is an organization that originally started to ensure accessible safety information and training to the subcontractors in the industry. I have had the privilege of working with this organization for the last 6 years, and am the current President. Our mission is to share safety information throughout the industry and provide a place where producers, contractors, regulators, OSHA, local police and fire departments, Colorado State Patrol, safety consultants, and community members can come together to ensure that we share safety information and solutions to prevent injuries and fatalities. By sharing information and new technology, working with OSHA’s Denver Office to promote training and compliance assistance, we continuously work to make the industry safer for everyone.