Six Tips to Ensure Robust Safety Strategies at High-Risk Worksites

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Dynamiq is a global emergency management company with its North American operations headquartered in Boulder, CO.  The company operates on six continents and specializes in empowering clients to protect their people, operations and reputation wherever they are in the world.  It is very active in the oil and gas sector, providing numerous clients with global medical and security support and in the development, and implementation of customized crisis management programs.

Industrial sites, by their nature, are inherently high-risk workplaces. That is why so much effort and resource is expended in establishing safety management systems that encompass both personal and process safety programs.

Oil and gas operators are heavily regulated and health and safety management standards are clearly defined and audited.  Of course, it makes sense that the safety effort should be directed towards preventing accidents before they occur. But even with the most robust safety management system in place, accidents still happen. Operators need to be able to immediately respond to ensure the best outcomes for an injured worker.

This challenge is far less complicated for sites that have a first response infrastructure in place, with immediate access to advanced medical care. But with more than 50,000 oil and gas wells in Colorado, this is not always the case. Many companies have workers and contractors operating in more isolated environments where notification of injury and immediate response might be more challenging.

Too often, we see examples in companies around the world, including in North America, where workers operating in remote locations don’t get the immediate help they need when an incident occurs.

Simple precautions and prior planning go a long way.

Here are six tips to ensure robust safety strategies at high-risk and isolated worksites:

  1. When conducting a risk assessment for the job site, determine where medical help will come from. What is the maximum allowable time for response? Can the local municipal first responders meet this requirement? If not, what alternate arrangements need to be put in place? These assessments should be recorded and any resources required are specifically identified.
  1. Establish relationships with first responders. Ask them to visit the worksite and give them a familiarization tour. Discuss potential access challenges and point out potential hazards. Make them familiar with the operation. This will likely improve response time if they are called.
  1. Establish working alone protocols where appropriate. For workers attending numerous sites, a check in/check out communication routine should be implemented. This requires the worker to call in when arriving at a remote site and when leaving. These calls should be managed by operations.
  1. Protocols should be developed for the event a worker does not call in when expected. Resources should always be available to travel to any site for a physical check if required. For higher risk jobs, workers should never be alone and should always be accompanied. This should be determined during the risk assessment.
  1. Implement Global Information System (GIS) technology so vehicles and workers can be tracked. This will need to be discussed with labor relations, however, an increasing number of companies are enforcing this protocol to support worker safety. Using GIS means there is never any doubt about the location of a worker should a call for assistance be received.
  1. Exercise accident response in remote locations. Many companies say they have sufficient protocols in place but when faced with a real event, the response is far from smooth. It is much better to find out during a simulation exercise that phone numbers have not been kept up to date, or that an assumption about available resources for a medical evacuation is not correct.

These kinds of precautions and protocols don’t cost a lot to put into place but they potentially save lives.  A little common sense goes a long way to ensuring the health and safety of your workers.

By Chris Lansing, U.S. Sales Coordinator, Dynamiq