Awareness is easily the single most important method for staying safe in the oilfield. Being aware of a hazard allows you as a worker the opportunity to make choices to protect yourself from that hazard. If there is a hazard that you are unaware of then exposure to that hazard eventually becomes unavoidable. This leads to injury or death due to the unknown hazard.
What is awareness good for?
When you are aware of an oilfield hazard then you have knowledge of what the hazard is and what it can do. Additionally, you should be aware of any potential hazards that don’t yet exist and how to protect yourself from them. If you are unsure of how to protect yourself then make sure to ask your supervisor right away. Never enter into a situation where you cannot adequately protect yourself from oilfield hazards or into an area where the hazards are not known.
Are there levels of awareness?
While working in the oilfield, you should always focus 100% of your awareness on the job at hand including: steps taken and all possible hazards. This means that when you are working then your awareness should be at the highest level. When you are taking a break or relaxing at the house then your level of awareness can come down somewhat to allow your mind to rest. Do not return to work without also returning your awareness to the full level.
Does awareness need experience?
It can often be easier to become aware of a hazard if you have experienced it before. Knowing what to look for provides your mind a shortcut to more quickly identify the components of a job that could potentially harm you. If you are unfamiliar with a piece of equipment it is too difficult to assume what it could do. Receiving training or help from more experienced workers can bridge the gap between being unsure and knowing the correct work procedures on new equipment.
Experience is important, but is does have a pitfall. Complacency sets in for workers who have become experienced enough to understand the worksite hazards and have over time lost respect for them. A complacent worker may be knowledgeable enough to protect himself but too careless to do what needs to be done.
Bottom line: Awareness is the most important component of personal safety. Safeland training and experience are important to fostering a sense of awareness while working in the oilfield. Ask your supervisor if you are unsure of any hazards and never allow yourself to become complacent.
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