Unlike many other industrial jobs, oil and gas workers are rarely working in urban population centers. The remote locations of many well sites means that both people and equipment need to be transported over long distances, often on highways. Aside from the time and expense associated with long-distance transportation comes a more sinister statistic: 4 out of 10 oil and gas workers who are killed on the job die in a highway vehicle accident. With vehicle collisions such a major cause of casualties, it’s imperative that everyone in the oil and gas industry takes vehicle safety seriously.
Hazard #1: Drowsy Driving
Fatigued driving is a major contributor to vehicle collisions on the job. Factors that contribute to this include:
- Time of day: Most people’s internal rhythms cause them to feel more sleepy at night. Some people also experience increased drowsiness in the early afternoon.
- Monotonous tasks: Driving, and especially highway driving, for an extended period of time can cause workers to feel more fatigued.
- Medications and health problems: Medications ranging from painkillers to cough syrups can have drowsiness as a side effect. Some health conditions like anemia also have fatigue as a symptom.
- Length of time awake. Long shifts and lack of sleep can both cause enough feelings of tiredness to be hazardous while driving. Even smaller sleep deficits can add up over time.
If you are yawning, have drooping eyelids, or find yourself drifting out of your lane, pull over! Taking a break can mean the difference between a long night and a deadly one.
Hazard #2: Distracted Driving
16% of all motor vehicle accidents in the United States involve a distracted driver. Distractions include:
- Looking at or talking on the phone
- “Rubbernecking” or trying to get a better view of an accident
- Eating or drinking
- Looking up directions
- Arguing with a passenger
- Daydreaming or thinking about recent or future events
Texting while driving is one of the most dangerous of all distractions because it involves visual, manual, and cognitive distraction. Texting while driving is also against the law in almost every state.
While you are the driver, that is your primary responsibility. Whenever feasible, delegate other tasks like responding to phone calls, looking up directions, or adjusting the temperature or radio station to a passenger to enable you to focus on your job of keeping yourself, your passengers, and your equipment safe.
Hazard #3: Unskilled Driving
Driving, while a common skill, is still one that is learned over time. Unskilled driving can transform what would normally be a slightly challenging issue into a major vehicle accident.
- Young workers and others who are new to driving are still developing the capacity to accurately assess risks and react appropriately to varied circumstances while behind the wheel.
- Experienced drivers may be unfamiliar with larger or commercial vehicles.
- Drivers of all experience levels may have a history of reckless driving.
- Medical conditions, some medications and even normal aging can lead to decreased eyesight and reflexes, rendering previously responsible drivers unsafe.
If you are being asked to drive a vehicle that you are uncomfortable with, tell your supervisor. It is much better to get more training and phase in driving responsibilities gradually than to try to save face by operating a vehicle that is beyond your skill level.
What if something seems unsafe?
If a vehicle seems not to be functioning properly, if road conditions have become hazardous, or if people are driving while incapable of doing so safely, it’s important to have a method for making reports quickly and efficiently. FirstHand enables you to do just that (once you’ve pulled over, of course). Request a demo to see how FirstHand can help keep your workplace safe.