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Safety for your most vulnerable, remote and lone oil and gas workers

Lone and remote worker safety

Working alone is inherently dangerous, then layer on additional risks like hazardous gas exposure, health incidents, wildlife encounters, extreme weather, vehicle accidents, trips and falls, and the threats multiply. Cell and radio coverage is often spotty at remote locations such as exploration areas, well sites and compressor stations, making it difficult to maintain contact with your people at all times and dispatch help quickly if problems arise. On account of these factors, extra care must be taken to ensure the safety of the most vulnerable remote oil and gas workers.

Lack of visibility into a situation can be fatal

Well operators, for example, often drive for long periods of time alone, so how do you know if they’re safe at all times? And refinery workers, even though there are a lot of other workers onsite, due to the size of the facility they can also face similar risks. If they fall and no one sees it, how will anyone know what happened?

Traditionally, the first indication a lone worker is in harm’s way is a missed oil field worker well sitecheck-in, but sometimes that’s already too late for an emergency response. The missed check-in also doesn’t give a clear indication of what happened or where the person might be located. Rescuers then face added risks when they don’t have accurate information about the situation at hand – an all-to-common scenario when a lone worker is unaccounted for. 

Thankfully, risks to lone workers can be mitigated through personal safety monitors provided to each worker, accompanied by live safety monitoring via cellular or satellite connectivity. Together, they make it possible to quickly detect and identify workers in trouble and deploy the appropriate measures to ensure their safety, regardless of their location.

Five Capabilities for Lone Worker Safety

If you’re looking for additional protection for your lone worker, there’s a lot to think about. But the following five capabilities are must-haves to keep lone, often remote, oil and gas workers--and rescue personnel--as safe and protected as possible.

1. Live monitoring with GPS location tracking

In rescue scenarios, when every second counts, additional time spent trying to locate a worker can be the difference between life and death. Live safety monitoring and GPS location tracking enables rescue teams to identify the location of an at-risk remote worker, with pinpoint accuracy, saving time and lives with a faster response--with no search teams required.

Personal monitoring devices like the G7 Series from Blackline ensure that a remote worker’s location-and the hazards present - are always known, making it possible to quickly locate a worker in distress and respond instantly.

For example, when a lone worker suffered a cardiac arrest and had a subsequent fall, the G7c he was wearing immediately went into alert and notified Blackline’s Safety Operation Center (SOC). The worker also pulled the SOS latch to indicate he was in distress. Emergency measures were quickly initiated, and the worker’s supervisor was able to locate him in the field and use an AED and CPR to help the worker while the SOC dispatched local emergency services. Soon after, he was taken to hospital for a safe recovery.
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2. Satellite connectivity

G7c_Single_LiveResponseSatellite connectivity enables real-time monitoring of a remote worker’s safety and is a must for workers that frequently visit locations with poor cell or radio coverage. For example, personal gas monitoring devices with satellite connectivity make it possible to contact workers directly to check on their wellbeing--and respond quickly if contact cannot be established.

In more remote locations, workers may need to transfer from a truck to an ATV. Some satellite uplink devices are permanently mounted to the truck, limiting the worker’s ability to work safely further away from the vehicle. The G7 Bridge from Blackline Safety connects to satellite but also has a magnetic base and battery that allows the device to be moved between the truck to an ATV so that workers are not restricted to shorter ranges like 1 or 2 miles. In addition, G7’s monitors deliver reliable coverage in over 100 countries around the world, even in the most remote locations.

3. Rapid communication capabilities

A connected safety solution for lone workers should include quick and accessible communications via push-to-talk (PTT) and text message to enable a faster response from prepared teams when a worker is identified as at risk.

PTT is an optional service for Blackline’s G7 safety wearables and portable area monitors that allows teams to stay connected with each other whether it’s between two colleagues, through a group channel or to all connected devices.

4. Gas detection

But what if a worker is incapacitated from hazardous gas exposure and unable to let someone know there’s a problem? That’s where gas detection is critical. Real-time gas monitoring alerts let safety monitoring personnel know in real-time if a worker has been exposed to a combustible or hazardous gas, what kind and at what concentration.

Furthermore, if a remote worker appears to be in danger, the ability to remotely access their gas readings is invaluable, providing rescuers with improved visibility into the situation and helping them plan the emergency response accordingly. This advanced knowledge protects the rescuers from potential harm and allows them to respond more effectively.

Backing your gas detectors with software such as Blackline Live gives you real-time confirmation of a worker’s safety but the included reporting suite of Blackline Analytics empowers leaders to make proactive and informed decisions to ensure next level safety.

5. Fall detection

IMG_SIT_TruckDrivingintoFogAnother indicator a worker may be in trouble is when the person falls or stops moving for a period of time. Personal safety monitoring devices should feature person down, fall detection, and no motion alarms that are visible to anyone with access to the monitoring dashboard.

For example, all G7 devices detect a person-down event when an employee is motionless and sense if a worker trips, slips or falls, then triggers an alarm. These alarms automatically alert live monitoring personnel that the worker is down, and the data from their monitoring devices gives them the information they need to rapidly diagnose the situation and dispatch emergency services, if required.

Conclusion

Protecting the health and safety of lone oil and gas workers is critical. With the right safety monitoring solution in place, you can have peace of mind that your people’s safety is being continuously monitored and those in distress are instantly connected to potentially lifesaving assistance. 

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