Thursday, April 9, 2009

Oklahoma Oil Fields

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Once again work takes me to some remote corner of the US. This time it was the Oil Fields of Oklahoma. I personally handle sites, inspections, training, and incidents that involve high profile sites or companies, high hazard/high risk industries, remote locations, severe incidents, or where safety is mission critical.

The petroleum industry is considered high hazard. One of the things that I learned from my trip is that the petroleum industry is dominated by many, many small companies rather than a few big multinational corporations. The industry is full of small contractor companies that service the different segments of the supply chain.

From a safety perspective this is good and bad. Unlike the big names that we all know, there is not the million dollar budgets for safety. They do not use Six Sigma quality control. They are however very agile when it comes to implementing programs and there is open lines of communications between employees and management with questions or concerns.

I also found that since this is part of the Bible Belt there are employees who do not drink alcohol. These companies are like families, small and the people look after each other. Many times these are family owned and employ family members.

Some differences from the offshore petroleum rigs is that drilling is done by mobile rigs that are somewhat safer. The whole process of sinking a well is done by small crews, each specializing in the step they are doing. The Oil and Natural Gas Industry as a whole has a lower rate of injury than the whole US private sector.

In 2006, the rate of job-related nonfatal injuries and illnesses for the oil and natural
gas industry was 3.41 per 100 full-time workers, compared to a rate of 4.4 for the
entire U.S. private sector.
-source: American Petroleum Institute,

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