Oil and gas worksite safety comes from broad, company-wide commitment, but it starts with getting specific. Which job tasks, specifically, do you want workers to do differently? This simple question can only be answered through careful planning.

Start by doing a Job Safety Analysis (JSA) for every job in your company, because knowing where you are is the key to determining where you should be. A JSA is a procedure that studies job steps to break down existing and potential hazards.

The theory behind JSAs is that observation – watching employees work – is the best way to uncover hazards. A JSA is the opposite of presumption, where top management merely assumes it knows what the hazards are.

Your JSA should involve four basic stages: selection, breakdown, identification, and prevention. Here’s a look at the step-by-step process.

STAGE 1: Job Selection

Every individual job in your company should receive a JSA. If this is impossible due to location or time constraints, at a minimum select a representative sample of job types across your organization.

The most critical jobs to include in your JSAs have the following characteristics:

  • High number of accidents
  • Low number of accidents that are high in severity
  • Potential zones where catastrophic accidents could occur, but haven’t yet
  • Brand new jobs
  • Recently re-assigned jobs with new procedures
  • Non-routine and periodic jobs, which require less-often-used skills

STAGE 2: Task Breakdown

During each JSA, break the job down into its tasks, step by step. Avoid being too general. The goal is to be specific about the actual actions an employee performs throughout the workday. Create a spreadsheet or other tracking document that records job tasks.

For example, you would track how a worker handles using a blowout preventer by listing the sequence of events that occurs: worker observes primary control loss, engages blowout preventer using hydraulic sealing ram, checks seal to wellbore, and so forth.

STAGE 3: Identify Potential Hazards

As you track job tasks, note points where hazards occur. This doesn’t mean the worker actually created a hazard, or something disastrous occurred. Rather, you’re looking for potential areas of risk.

So, to continue the example above about the blowout preventer, next to “observes primary control loss” you might note potential hazards like, “worker fails to notice control loss” or “control loss alarm fails to activate.” Next to “engages blowout preventer” you’d note “old and damaged seals” to highlight the risk of equipment failure.

Look for risk-related red flags like:

  • Worn equipment and tools
  • Slipping, tripping, strain, sprain, and heavy lifting hazards
  • Body parts at risk of being caught between objects
  • Extreme temperatures, noise, and vibration
  • Risk of falling objects
  • Dust, fumes, vapors, chemicals, caustics, and other air/surface hazards
  • Enclosed spaces
  • Poor lighting
  • Intrusion from weather

During the JSA, you’ll likely identify hundreds of hazards. It’s often an eye-opening experience.

STEP 4: Preventive Measures

Now it’s time to address potential hazards and minimize their impact on your company. This is generally done with four methods that work in sync to control risks:

ELIMINATION. This is the ideal and most effective solution. The hazard is totally eliminated by modifying the process, using a different process entirely, or changing the environment, tools, or materials involved.

CONTAINMENT. Devices are employed to contain hazards at a moment’s notice. This usually involves machine guards, enclosures, diverters, and other types of containment products.

TRAINING. A revision in work procedures and knowledge can help. For example, you might implement new training to ensure employees know the locations of emergency chemical shower and eyewash stations.

REDUCTION. If no other option is possible, do what you can to reduce the impact of a potential hazard. This isn’t an ideal solution, but it limits damage. For example, if the repetitive motion of turning cranks is causing employee arm and back pain, you might install new equipment that’s more ergonomic.

To further minimize safety risks, consider adding hazard tracking software to the mix. Zeteky’s FirstHand app is perfect for conducting JSAs and supports a culture of safety across your operation. Request a free demo now.