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What to Do Immediately When an Incident Occurs In an Oil Refinery

Like other manufacturing plants, oil refineries remain one of the most dangerous places for workers, where incidences are likely to happen at the slightest of the opportunity. The industry ranks high regarding contributing to the global GDP and employment. In fact, oil companies and subsidiaries are the leading employers in the world. Other than employment, nearly all other industries rely on oil products to run their operations. Despite the numerous efforts to substitute oil with other forms of energy, it’s not possible to entirely replace oil products in the manufacturing sector, owing to the broad range of uses.

While most refineries have installed state of the art safety equipment and the industry prescribed procedures, one cannot assume perfection concerning accidents. It takes seconds for a fire or a fall to occur at the workplace. Conventionally, companies gave undue attention to the preventive measures leaving staff with little knowledge on how to handle accidents when they occur. Over emphasis on incidents, prevention creates a level of comfort on some employees with the belief that the stations are well protected against such occurrences.

With most companies keen on reducing the risk standards on their workplaces, it evident that a significant number of accidents arise out of commotion caused by an instant incident. For this reason, employees and management ought to understand ways that they can handle emergencies without posing a risk of more incidences, endangering the life of the injured or destroying the company’s property. Some of the ways industry players can deal with emergency occurrences include:

Activate Alarms 

Whether it’s a fall, an injury, fire or an explosion, it’s vital to notify other sectors through activating the alarms for instant evacuation. In every refinery, different signals exist to insinuate different occurrences with color buttons varying from one to the other. They not only help in communicating to the staff but also to the emergency service providers such as firefighters and ambulances.

Nevertheless, the safety champions need to know how to use the alarms as inadequate training is likely to communicate the wrong message to the service providers. The buttons ought to be placed in convenient areas where people can access without risking more incidents. The ring period need not extend when the area is secured, and emergency services availed.

Evacuate the Injured Persons

In an event of an injury emanating from slips, defective machines, oil spillages and electrical malfunctioning, the first goal is to remove the victims from the area. In case one is trapped by a machine, consider switching off the machine to prevent further injuries and damage to property. The injured needs immediate medical attention to assess the level of harm and hence the treatment required.

Delayed evacuation is known to increase the number of fatalities in most accidents. Some companies provide in-house medical services that help treat the victims before the arrival of ambulances for further care. In line with this, companies ought to have an open assembly point where workers meet to determine the trapped number.

Report to Management

Despite numerous efforts to improve safety awareness in workplaces, managers stand the best position to deal with evacuations than junior employees. When it comes to occupational safety, staffs

on the ground focus on preventive measures, and leave the bulk of the incident post activities to management. While safety champions help in raising alarms on real incidences and near misses, a clear reporting structure helps in coordinating the quick response to the problem.

Before an accident occurs, several near misses might have preceded the real occurrence. For this reason, oil companies need to encourage a proactive approach where employees are recognized for reporting near misses, as opposed to scolding. Junior staff need to report all incidents for management to take necessary restorative and preventive measure.

Make an Announcement 

Depending on the extent of damage or injury caused by the accidents, the teams suffer anxiety as they come to terms with the occurrences. In areas where massive destruction occurs, some fear the future of their careers, and that may affect their families. For this reason, the management needs to take responsibility and announce the next course action. In the case of minor occurrences, managers need to consider highlighting the cause and remind them of what is required of them. At this point it imperative to underline the kind of intervention you need from them and the procedures to follow based on the policy.

Secure the Scene 

Oil spillages are common occurrences in the oil and gas industry. Operational teams need to adhere to the right protective gear that includes FR clothing, boots, gloves, gas masks, fall protection, hard gas hats and safety glasses. Nonetheless, an accident calls for immediate risk assessment of the scene to establish the causes and hence make the necessary corrections. Erecting barriers not only helps prevent further incidences but also improves the evacuation efficiency. The industry recommends the use of signs to alert traffic to the hazardous areas while temporary physical barriers come in handy preventing authorized access to the premises.

Immediate Risk Assessment 

Other than the scheduled safety assessments, one cannot wish away the essence of conducting a comprehensive check on the plant, or part of the line involved. Often, people are likely to rest after establishing the primary cause of mayhem. Unknown to them is that incidents emanate from more than a single reason. Often, risk assessments are done after the incident and after repairs to ensure the area is free from hazards before resumption. Explosions that come from gas and oil leakages are known to consume the bulk of the plants that might warrant a temporary closure of the factory or a single line for reconstruction.

Immediate Restorations 

With most efforts geared towards the welfare of the employees, it is of paramount importance for the company to assess the level of damage to the property. It helps to plan for the reconstruction work and source of funding for the same, failure to which it might suffer reduced productivity and hence profitability. Plant evaluations help identity the areas that need full replacements and those that need partial repairs. They inform the decision on the need for the factory to shut down operations for a given duration.

Call Emergency Rescue Service Providers

The modern oil and gas industry requires players to enhance full observance of occupational safety requirements. Most firms pride in high-quality security apparatus that lower the prevalence of

hazardous events on the floor. That does not shield them from potential accidents that occur in places perceived the most secure. Cognizant of the nature of the industry, most subscribe to emergency service packages offered in the market.

In the event of occurrences, activating the alarm system sends signals to the resident service provider to attend to the emergency. While warnings may seem convenient, high-intensity incidences call for people to contact different service providers to deal with the problem. A backup contractor comes in handy to supplement the efforts of the primary service provider in the event of breakdowns.


Expression of regret


Regardless of the cause of the accidents, the public, and the states have high expectations of the companies. For this reason, most expect immediate compensation for the affected with a minimal reprimand after the accidents. Some firms have lost millions of dollars in compensation lawsuits and with the severity heightened by the fact that some try to evade the corporate responsibility. Denying to take full responsibility puts the enterprise in prolonged legal conflicts that are not only expensive but also destroys the company’s brand.

Several studies have shown that timely apologies prevent the possible filing of lawsuits and increases the speed of settlements in the ongoing cases. For this reason, the hierarchy needs to express regret on the occurrences to the employees and avoid blame game that erodes the victim’s goodwill to settle out of court.



Michael Snyder
Michael Snyder