Now that we’re weeks into the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, the country is in a position never before experienced. That is, the United States — like the rest of the world — is forced to move forward as best we can while the country is under a partial lockdown. For the essential workers of the oil and gas industry, that means finding a way to stay safe even as they strive to meet the nation’s energy needs.
Fortunately, the industry is stepping forward to protect its people and keep the US supplied with energy.
Safety on the Job
The good news for oil and gas is that a lot of the standard safety gear required for working on an oil and gas site — eye protection, gloves, and masks — naturally diminishes the risk to oil and gas workers.
Several companies, however, are taking safety measures to another level by running routine checks of their staff and letting workers stay home when they demonstrate symptoms of COVID-19. A lot of companies around the world have also done their best to prioritize social distancing requirements, even on their offshore rigs.
Emphasizing Personal Hygiene
In mid-April, OSHA and the US Department of Labor issued guidelines for keeping individual workers safe during the outbreak of COVID-19. In addition to the expected notes about permitting sick days and keeping employees separated whenever possible, the OSHA guidelines indicated that companies who stress personal hygiene should eventually expect success squashing the disease.
Personal hygiene, in this case, means an emphasis on hand-washing whenever possible, as well as being conscious of how often you’re touching your face when you’re outdoors. Workers who don’t have access to hand-washing stations should be given access to an ample supply of hand-sanitizer.
The spotlight has been routinely shined on the physical threats posed by COVID-19, but less attention has been paid to the potential psychological impacts. As one oil and gas company put it, “Offshore work can be stressful, even in normal conditions, and we fully recognize the extra emotional strain that COVID-19 places on our personnel. We, therefore, provide emotional and psychological support services at every … site and we actively encourage our team members to avail of these services.”
The goal is for oil and gas companies to make sure their employees stay healthy mentally and physically.
A Helping Hand
During these trying times, few industries have been hit quite as hard as oil and gas. Still, though, even as money drains from its coffers, oil and gas continue to take extra precautions to keep its employees and its customers safe. As much as the industry is losing from a financial perspective, it remains committed to providing the energy that is crucial to keeping the country moving forward.