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5 Tips for Protecting Your Lone Workers in the Oil and Gas Industry

5 Tips for Protecting Your Lone Workers in the Oil and Gas Industry

Managing the safety at a large oil and gas site is never simple.

Oil and gas projects require coordination between several parties working with hazardous materials, often under extreme conditions. When a job grows in scope, you'll bring lone workers and contractors into your workflow. Extra hands means additional responsibility and safety implications.

So how do you account for lone workers on site at your facility? And how do you keep them safe and connected?

If these questions sound familiar to you, you're not alone. When surveyed, 60% of utility professionals cited a need to improve their safety culture in 2017, and 52% were interested in improving oversight of contractors. You need to make sure that you have systems in place to make that happen.

So what can be done? Here are 5 common challenges faced by professionals in oil and gas, and corresponding tips for overcoming these challenges.

  1. The Challenge: You have multiple legacy systems that work independently of each other. This causes issues when sending out critical alerts to all required parties. You may be wasting time between the occurrence of an incident and requests for emergency assistance from first responders and Federal support agencies. You're likely to experience delays in communication between different parts of your own site.

    The Fix: Integration. From community warning systems to digital displays and gas monitors, track your inventory and learn each system's capabilities. This will help you know where you have duplication and should pare down. For when you can't pare down, explore new technologies that connect disparate systems to better speak to each other. Systems that can notify your entire facility through an employee safety and accountability system at a moment's notice are ideal.

  2. The Challenge: You can't always account for who is onsite. You want to do a better job of ensuring the safety of all stakeholders, especially lone workers who may not be familiar with your facility.

    The Fix: Automate your local employee database. Systems like BlackBerry AtHoc can integrate employee rosters with access control mechanisms, so that no matter the time of day or night, you'll know who is physically present on-site. In case of a disaster, you'll have immediate insight of the scope of potentially affected individuals.

  3. The Challenge: You want a better handle on your data. If you could analyze performance measurement, you could ensure that all assets are being properly used, getting rid of redundancies and inefficiencies. In many cases, you could even prevent service interruptions and accidents.

    The Fix: Empower your personnel to better serve as eyes and ears at your facility. Do not rely solely on a leadership team to take account of the day-to-day. Provide systems for on-scene personnel to report events and work progress, as well as flag any issues they may notice. Emergency response is great, but avoiding emergencies altogether is even better.

  4. The Challenge: You want to maintain good relationships with the surrounding community at your site, and that means great communication. You need nearby authorities and communities to stay up-to-date with information you want to relay.

    The Fix: Establish the coordination and dissemination of information regarding hazardous materials and incidents. Think ahead. When you're seamlessly connected to community organizations in real-time, you can achieve faster and more coordinated responses. Increase goodwill from community members, ensuring that critical updates will get to them as soon as possible. When they understand that you're on the same page about protecting life and property, you'll earn their trust and strengthen your "license to operate".

  5. The Challenge: When disaster strikes, everything goes on hold, even when the incident is isolated. You need a way to isolate localized incidents and respond accordingly, so that non-affected facilities and production units can go on as usual. You don't want to put everything on hold for one small slip or fall, but sometimes automated alert systems can't tell the difference.

    The Fix: Control emergency activities by understanding and isolating a problem. Systems like BlackBerry AtHoc can enable real-time visibility into issues and personnel locations for effective response management. BlackBerry AtHoc manages the flow of incoming events and reports, and displays events over a map, along with information on source, type and contact identity of nearby personnel. Once you understand who is local and who is safe, you can connect personnel to minimize the overall negative impact of an event.
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