With over 10,000 workers to join the Oil and Gas industry between 2020 and 2021, the safety of workers continues to be a pressing issue. Safety in the Oil and Gas workplace will continue to be risky for many reasons, chief among which is the industry’s dependence on heavy machinery as a core component of its operation.

While the standard safety implementations have only served to mitigate risk to a certain degree, there is more that still needs to be done.

The Oil and Gas industry has deeply troubling statistics, with over 60% of risk factors classified as “serious,” meaning that the hazards were likely to result in “death or serious physical harm”.

AR when implemented can better the odds of workplace safety for workers and reduce litigation and the need for settlement on the part of industry recruiters.

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What are these workplace hazards?

#1 – Hazardous noise levels

There is scientific evidence that noise has negative health impacts. Researchers have concluded that modern oil and gas development can cause noise at levels that increase both short and long-term health risks.

These risks include stress, sleep disturbance and deprivation, elevated blood pressure, and heart disease.

The EPA in 1974 established a protective noise guideline of 70dBA averaged over a 24 hour period, and 55 dBA outdoors to prevent measurable hearing loss. A standard that was adopted by many other agencies.

Oil and gas operations exceed these standards frequently. West Virginia researchers discovered after measuring noise around several oil and gas operations, found levels frequently above 55 dBA and some in the 70-80 dBA range.

This overtime in the workplace leads to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) for industry workers.

#2 – Machine Incidents

The Oil and Gas industry requires the use of some incredible, but potentially dangerous large machinery for oil and gas extraction. Three of every five on-site fatalities are a direct result of struck-by/caught-in/caught-between incidents.

Equipment such as moving vehicles or equipment and high-pressure lines can cause injuries or fatalities.

#3 – Explosive Incidents

Explosions and fires are one of the Oil and Gas industry’s top workplace hazards. Workers are exposed to many flammable vapors and gases.

Exposure to hazardous chemicals poses a major risk to on-site employees as management of either can be difficult. This is what AR is set to correct.

Ignition of these items doesn’t require an open flame either, frictional heat, welding tools, or even just hot surfaces can create a risk of fire in any environment.

#4 – Falls and Slips

Due to the nature of the Oil and Gas industry, most of the equipment used is often very large and elevated high above the ground. Workers must occasionally access these high platforms in order to maintain or use them.

At those heights, the risk of slips and falls increases. AR is set to disrupt and combat this risk.

#5 – Confined Spaces

Confined spaces are one of the most dangerous situations for Oil and Gas workers. This is so because of the unpredictability of conditions within these confined spaces.

Confined spaces such as petroleum tanks, reserve pits, mud pits, and other excavated areas, and other confined spaces around a wellhead are places workers are often required to enter.

This exposes them to health hazards like asphyxiation and exposure to hazardous chemicals.

How AR can enhance Oil and Gas workplace safety around these hazards

#1 – AR and hazardous noise levels

AR has the potential to help hearing-impaired workers and prevent the eventual hearing loss due to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) of those yet affected.

AR can also help to restore the social balance that (gradual) hearing loss causes most oil and gas workers to lose.

The cognitive toll that requires people with hearing loss to think harder in order to cope with complex acoustic environments is transferred from the man to AR.

With the latest development in AR that combines beamforming, deep learning techniques, active noise cancellation, and contextual awareness of your surroundings, AR can help us arrive at a system that understands what you want to listen to, isolates, and enhances the sound’s source, and reduces background noise.

By fitting workers with AR augmented safety headgear, workers can get AR-processed signals that provide them the best hearing safety option available.

The AR augmented system turns up the volume only on the sounds the worker wants to hear while adjusting for the worker’s unique hearing ability.

#2 – AR and machine incidents

AR and VR simulations can help avoid struck-by/caught-in/caught-between incidents. These simulations provide higher levels of employee engagement and learning retention than reading safety manuals.

AR and VR simulations help to create realistic training scenarios that would be expensive and/or dangerous to recreate in real life.

The simulations help the participants to understand the positions of machines that could strike them, get caught in, or get caught between and raise their awareness levels.

The simulations work by creating shock systems as feedback that tells the participant that they have just been struck until the participant is more careful around the equipment.

#3 – AR and explosive incidents

Real-world training exercises to teach workers to recognize potential explosions and the attendant components and factors that lead to it costs a lot to pull off.

AR simulations help to cover the gamut of imagination and relay exposed explosive components at one point throughout the workplace.

This helps to warn workers in immediate danger about impending danger and prevent those who are not within the buffer of immediate danger from getting into it.

Implementing AR within the workplace will save a lot of lives from being lost to preventable explosions.

#4 – AR and falls and Slips

Falls are very common in the Oil and Gas industry and they cost operators lots of money. Slips cost operators losses in billions of dollars annually while falls costs about the same, albeit a little less.

AR’s immersive environment teaches workers the importance of wearing appropriate personal protective equipment on the job, including helmets and harnesses when working at a height.

AR also helps to warn workers when they are approaching or within proximity of potential elements that could make them slip or fall off heights.

#5 – AI and Confined spaces

With AI annotation that provides the worker and those the worker’s feed is connected to with real-time descriptions of what is happening around them, risk factor management is now shared.

If the risk of asphyxiation and exposure to toxic gases arise, the worker can in real-time share live visuals of the conditions within the enclosed space.

Conclusion

AR is set to disrupt the Oil and Gas industry in ways that will altruistically benefit everyone involved. Be at the forefront of this AR revolution.