During 2003-2008, 648 oil and gas extraction workers were killed on the job (onshore and offshore, combined), resulting in an annual fatality rate of 29.1 deaths per 100,000 workers, over seven times the rate for all US workers. Nearly 11 percent of the industry’s fatalities occur offshore; during 2003-2008, 69 fatalities occurred among offshore oil and gas extraction workers. The purpose of this NIOSH project is to use the public health approach to reduce the injury hazards present in the U.S. offshore oil and gas extraction industry. This approach includes investigating the most frequent fatal events in the offshore oil and gas extraction industry, analyzing available surveillance data to identify research and prevention priorities, and creating products for workers and management to minimize associated risks. NIOSH will partner with oil and gas extraction companies, industry safety experts, and workers to identify those hazards and their risk factors, and then work with industry to create compelling communication products.

Use of fall protection

Falls are one of the most common fatal events in the U.S. oil and gas extraction industry. The frequent need to work at elevations and the misuse or non-use of fall protection systems makes fall injuries a significant hazard. The workers employed by drilling contractors and well servicing companies (two-thirds of the workforce) spend much of their time working at elevations and are therefore the target population for this project. As part of this project focus group discussions and interviews will be conducted with oil and gas extraction workers to identify the factors that influence their use of fall protection systems. Detailed information will be collected about their perceptions of fall hazards, barriers to the correct use of fall protection systems, external influences on their use, and strategies for increasing their use. This project will identify modifiable factors and corresponding interventions that will increase the use of fall protection systems in the oil and gas extraction industry. Recommendations will be developed for increasing the correct use of fall protection systems, tailored to oil and gas drilling companies and well servicing companies. NIOSH will also develop outreach products targeting the factors identified in our analysis of the focus group and interview data. These outreach products will be presented to workers and safety supervisors to ensure that they are appropriate and effective, and they will be disseminated through the information channels utilized by the target audience.

Source: NIOSH