For supervisors and safety managers, it is important to enable awareness in workforce for optimal safety operations. The oil and gas industry is firmly in the era where increased efficiencies and innovative approaches are a prerequisite for a viable future. A visual communication such as Animation, if specifically tailored to this industry’s pain point, can help.
Oil and gas industry processes and operations arrive with risks due to complexity in work environment. Flammable gases, such as well gases released from trucks, production or surface equipment – can ignite by electrical energy, open flames, cutting and welding tools, hot surfaces etc. In addition, workers need to enter confined spaces such as excavated areas, sand storage containers, mud pits. The struck-by or caught-in hazards come from moving vehicles, falling equipment and high-pressure lines.
Amongst all of these, when we talk about gases, any exposure to it is a silent threat, and often invisible to the body’s senses.
With the continuous global exploration of oil and gas, many mature fields that contain high concentrations of Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) have to be developed. It appears naturally as a byproduct of decomposition, in processes from drilling to refining and wastewater treatment.
Also known as sour gas, H2S is a life-threatening, corrosive and flammable gas, capable to trigger combustion, explosions and detonations in case of contact with peroxides, bromates, ammonia or other substances.
Dealing with high risks for personnel
Based on their exposure levels (0-1000PPM and above), they can cause eye irritation, soreness, headaches, fatigue, vomiting, and difficulty in breathing, coughing. At higher concentrations, only a few breaths are needed to induce coma, respiratory paralysis and even death.
With animated videos, we can create a scenario, wherein a person is step-by-step exposed to different H2S levels, and with it, is explained the health effects and its gravity while undertaking tasks. This step is important to make the workers realize the increase in alarming levels of H2S around them.
Animation as an instructional resource, allows increased levels of exchange in safety information, proposing a change in safety culture from ‘what is needed’ to ‘why it is needed’– most importantly, in wearing PPE. Industries mandate the use of side-shields, eye masks, respiratory PPE, face shields, safety boots etc. to ensure that their workers remain protected from the working conditions.
Evaluating the degree of severity
Oil and gas facilities are mostly exposed to vagaries of weather – be it dusty environments, sand storms, inclement weather etc.
Here, every H2S detection device needs to have fast response time, protection device should be appropriate and teams need to be trained for all acts of escape and rescue. Because, in case of an incident, the facility team will be on its own till the arrival of external aid.
Animation as a tool can create a walkthrough for the workers to identify locations where gas detectors and monitoring devices are present. In a dangerous workplace like oil and gas, where the ambient conditions can get aggressive, availability of the gas detector is crucial. Besides, through awareness, workers lineate towards safe work practices, such as reporting, especially when devices become faulty or inoperable.
Videos also educate them about the protective chambers in their facility, temporary refuges or ventilation where sufficient breathing space is available.
Plus, as H2S is heavier than air, it impacts the facilities – H2S accumulates in low-lying areas of poorly ventilated spaces. In oil and gas, presence of air and moisture forms sulfuric acid, one that is capable to corrode metals. This affects the facility equipment, including internal surfaces of components, reduces durability and impact strength, hence potentially leading to their premature failure.
All of these scenarios can be depicted through animation – when workers are virtually exposed to such consequences, they understand and follow the preventive measures better.
Preventive first aid
Through animation, a first-aid procedure can be demonstrated to bridge the gap between the first escape and possibility to leave the contaminated area. Every worker must know the basic rescue strategy for an unfortunate event – animation scenarios provide consistent information throughout with multilingual support, which becomes prime in such scenarios.
The exploration and 24/7 operating nature of the oil and gas industry is highly dependent on its ability to protect people from H2S contamination. The expansion is limited by safety and HSE precautions – if it cannot be ensured, the whole project balance becomes unstable.
In view of the growing challenges that extremely high H2S concentrations pose for the industry, safety professionals can, via an engrossing medium of animation, address such challenges, seamlessly telecast the critical H2S site hazards and their preventive measures.