Drilling Ahead

World Oilfield Forum

"New Safety Culture " needed in oil drilling industry

Unexpected releases of toxic, reactive, or flammable liquids and gases in processes involving highly hazardous chemicals have been reported for many years. Incidents continue to occur in various industries that use highly hazardous chemicals which may be toxic, reactive, flammable, or explosive, or may exhibit a combination of these properties. Regardless of the industry that uses these highly hazardous chemicals, there is a potential for an accidental release any time they are not properly controlled. This, in turn, creates the possibility of disaster

Recent major disasters include the 1984 Bhopal, India, incident resulting in more than 2,000 deaths; the October 1989 Phillips Petroleum Company, Pasadena, TX, incident resulting in 23 deaths and 132 injuries; the July 1990 BASF, Cincinnati, OH, incident resulting in 2 deaths, and the May 1991 IMC, Sterlington, LA, incident resulting in 8 deaths and 128 injuries,BP The Deepwater Horizon with the following consequences :

11 rig workers died in the Macondo well blowout and fire.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill has had a dramatic effect on the ocean and coastal environments in the Gulf of Mexico.

Hundreds of miles of shoreline and wetlands have been affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill also has had a major impact on the fishing, shrimping, tourism, commercial retail and other industries.

The National Oil Spill Commission has concluded that the Deepwater Horizon disaster was a consequence of bad management and the failure of BP and its contractors to communicate

“Process safety deals with the fires, explosions, and toxic releases and things like that. You can have a very good accident rate for what we call “hard hat accidents” and not for process ones.” – Dr. Trevor Kletz

“The fact that you’ve gone for 20 years without a catastrophic event is no guarantee that there won’t be one tomorrow.” – Prof. Andrew Hopkins


Personal safety focuses on preventing high frequency, lower consequence incidents like slips, trips, and falls. Process safety focuses on preventing much lower frequency events with a catastrophic consequence.



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Comment by Randy Schmitz on January 7, 2013 at 2:32pm

Just wondering if a person could fins any stats on cancer rates from dudes working in the patch?

Mainly from invert leaching thru the green king gloves?



Comment by solberg on January 8, 2013 at 11:06am

Alberta Health Services. http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/poph/hi-poph-surv-phids-economi...

Invert mist is a hazard, however, look at the total picture. You've got all sorts of chemicals and aerosols around the rig. Brake cleaner and barite can give you kidney cancer and kidney stones. Lead pipe dope can toxify your system.  Then add in tobacco use, deep fried camp food and overall lifestyle and even global events like Fukushima. It's tough to isolate what the actual cause of cancer is going to be.

Most likely, we will all die from cancers of various sorts. Follow your WHMIS system and implement appropriate controls to reduce the exposure. In the case of Green King Gloves, wear some nitrile grease monkeys under them when working in OBM, and consult WorkSafe BC's guidelines on controlling exposure to invert drilling fluids.

Worker exposure is highest when spraying the shakers, catching samples, making connections and mixing in the hopper. Wear a respirator and slicker suit and put some distance between you and that invert. And wash your hands as often as possible. 


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