September 2013: Safety First
Physical risk is a fact of life for many oil and gas industry employees. That risk is ever present, but rarely, if ever, accepted without an effort to do more to increase safety. While fatalities happen in the oil and gas world — and each one represents a significant, tragic loss — the industry does seem to be “walking the walk” when it comes to better protecting employees.
The proof of that statement is indicated within the recent Rigzone Hiring Survey. Asked who they intended to recruit during the latter half of 2013, energy-focused U.S. hiring managers ranked “health, safety and environment managers” in their Top 10 talent must-haves moving forward, right there alongside mechanical engineers, petroleum engineers and finance and accounting professionals.
Which roles appear most in demand within the HSE niche? After managers and advisors, those doing the energy-focused hiring are hot after safety engineers and environmental safety and training talent.
The heightened pursuit of HSE experts explains at least somewhat the industry’s relative success in keeping rig workers and on-site talent safe. Again, even one fatality is one too many — a phrase that’s less a cliché, in this case, and more an aspiration. Consider the federal statistics that compare the average size of the oil and gas workforce with the number of fatalities recorded annually.
The safest year on record? 2009, when the average workforce measured 423,314 workers and the industry suffered 68 deaths — an average of one fatality for every 6,225 employees.
Aggregating the three years prior to 2009 yields one death for every 3,493 workers. And the three years after 2009: One death for every 4,201 workers, or an increase in relative safety of about 20 percent.
These numbers speak to an industry making strides on safety — though there is always more progress to be made on this front, whether we’re talking about protecting the oil and gas workforce, protecting the public or ensuring the safety of the environment.
Risk can never be eliminated completely, but the industry seems committed to minimize it as much as possible.