Contractor Guides

Health and Safety in the Oil and Gas Industry

It’s no secret that the petroleum industry is exposed to certain, very specific risks. If you’re a freelancer in the…

Author Photo by Kingsbridge

It’s no secret that the petroleum industry is exposed to certain, very specific risks. If you’re a freelancer in the oil and gas industry then you will be more aware than most about the risks inherent in this line of work.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in its Offshore Strategic Context report for 2014-2017, outlines their priority for the health and safety of the UK’s offshore industry is maintaining the integrity of the existing infrastructure that makes up approximately 50% of current offshore platforms. The main aim of this is to avoid a major incident that could result in the death of any offshore workers.

With health and safety such a critical issue within the industry, there are a number of principal risks that the HSE find must be eliminated in order to ensure the safety of the more than 32,000 workers in the petroleum industry.

Risk of fire and explosion

Any release of hydrocarbon carries the risk of ignition, fire and subsequent explosion. Hydrocarbon releases, or HCRs, can be caused either by the breakdown or erosion of a station’s assets (pipelines, pipeline risers or process plants) or by improper maintenance.

In its report, the HSE highlights that the industry has noticed the importance of reducing HCRs and that by April 2013 there was a near 50% reduction in releases, and a plan had been set out to achieve a further 50% reduction by 2016. However, by late in 2013 there had been a 30% rise in releases once more. It’s clear that this is a continuing issue for the industry and one that could have deadly consequences if not attended to.

Stability risks

Collisions, anchor failures or engine problems can lead to a loss of stability and buoyancy. A loss of stability can lead to subsequent problems, including gas leaks and fires. So it is essential not just to avoid the likelihood of a loss of stability but to also mitigate the impact that stability risks pose.

Personal health and safety

While offshore work has accident rates at roughly half that of onshore construction work, gas and oil contractors are still exposed to site specific hazards to their personal health and safety. These could be associated with manual handling work, use of chemicals, exposure to high levels of noise and operating cranes.

Performance of the industry’s health and safety standards is always monitored, with particular attention paid to noise exposure and mechanical handling. The HSE estimates that 30% of the UK’s offshore workforce is exposed to dangerous noise levels. Reduction of noise at source remains a priority, along with minimising the risk of hand-arm vibration caused by operating power tools.

Despite production declining, UK offshore oil production remains strategically important to the UK economy, providing around 50% of our energy needs and relieving some of the energy import burden. Last week’s Budget highlighted measures that George Osborne wants to take, including an increased tax allowance and a reduction on Petroleum Tax, to ensure that the negative impact of falling oil prices is mitigated for the North Sea industry.

The safety of those who make up the oil and gas industry is of the utmost importance if it is to maintain its strategic value to the UK. While the measures that the industry and its regulators who are at the frontline of it focus on safety, individual offshore workers can in fact help to protect themselves.

Here at Kingsbridge, we have many years of experience working with oil and gas contractors. That leaves us uniquely placed to understand the very specific risks that freelancers in the oil and gas industry are faced with. That’s why we have created our key insurance package.

Featuring Professional Indemnity, Public Liability and up to £500 per week payable Occupational Personal Accident cover, we’ve tailored our policy package to provide the most comprehensive insurance cover that the modern freelancer could need.

If you’re an oil and gas contractor that requires insurance, or you plan to reassess your current cover requirements, then speaking with the team at Kingsbridge can offer you an easy to understand, fuss-free service that will give you the peace of mind that you’ve got the right people looking after you.

Call our friendly, professional team on 01242 362168 where we will be happy to discuss your requirements. Alternatively, apply for a quote online to gain access to cover instantly.

Related topics

Contractor Guides Contractors