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The Ins and Outs of Shale Oil and Gas Safety

By: Kristie Kubovic, Director of Communications, Shale Media Group
Edited By: Mindy Gattner, Editor, Shale Media Group
Pictures By: Shale Media Group

There are numerous health and safety requirements in the shale oil and gas industry, which range from the apparel worn to the equipment employed. They are perhaps the most important part of the industry. Preventive measures guarantee that safety concerns are properly addressed.

With hundreds of protocols to follow from the national, state, and local level, a company could take care of all of their safety requirements internally or they may hire another company to do the entire job or parts of the job for them. The following is a look at both scenarios.

Internal Driven Safety

Supporting companies that drill shale oil and gas wells, Mustang Oilfield Services hauls water and a variety of equipment to well pads, averting those drilling companies from running out of water, supplies, and equipment. Overseeing much of the health and safety program, Mustang Oilfield Services’ Director of Business Development, Chase McCarthy, takes care of many of the company’s health and safety requirements. McCarthy stated, “Mustang’s management and staff are very proactive with safety policies and procedures.”

mustangMcCarthy explained, “There are two components to safety in the oilfield—hard safety and soft safety. Hard safety is the deployment of physical barriers and personal protective equipment (PPE) that are meant to reduce the risk of incidents and injuries. This includes items like wearing a hard hat and metatarsal boots or using chock blocks and drip pans. Complimenting hard safety is soft safety, which is much more in depth. It includes elements such as monitoring driver speeds, outlining risks on the projected route, and making sure drivers haven’t become fatigued while on duty.”

With hard safety, Mustang’s employees are required to wear flame resistant (FR) clothing; eye protection, which could include tinted or clear safety glasses; metacarpal gloves; metatarsal boots; hard hats; and hearing protection/ear plugs. In addition, drivers must utilize chock blocks, drip pans, cones, and other equipment when they are operating on any location. McCarthy says, “Chock blocks are to secure the stability of the truck. Drip pans assure that there is not an environmental release while the pump is in operation. Cones remind the drivers to complete a 360 check of the vehicle and surrounding area.”

Mustang TruckMustang’s customers also set guidelines for the safety protocols which they require their vendors to follow. McCarthy expressed, “At Mustang, we ensure that we adhere to our customer’s strictest policies and maintain that level of safety awareness well beyond what is required. Our company takes a very proactive approach to safety. We utilize and require employees to fill out a Job Safety Analysis (JSA) prior to leaving the yards for every job that we perform. The JSA outlines the risks of each job and is continuously updated as new tasks are performed throughout a shift. We also insist that all of our Field Supervisors and Yard Managers to hold “tailgate” safety talks every shift with all of the drivers before they leave the yard.”

External Safety Support

MAC Safety Consultants, Inc. is a full-service safety company with over two decades of experience that could perform and manage a company’s entire safety plan or just parts of it. MAC Safety assists companies doing business in the shale oil and gas industry wade through numerous health and safety requirements imposed on the industry. Besides the shale oil and gas industry, MAC Safety also services chemical manufacturing, industrial manufacturing, power and coal fire plants, and nuclear power.

From operators to construction companies, MAC Safety acts as a third party for a variety of different companies in the shale oil and gas industry. For example, MAC Safety provides a wide array of safety solutions and services including: safety and health consultations, safety professional staffing, safety attendant services, occupational medicine support, drug and alcohol testing, and industrial hygiene testing.

mac-safety“MAC Safety has the capability to work with any company in shale oil and gas field service. We could be a company’s entire safety team or work on one specific item such as a manual. We make our clients compliant by tailoring a safety program for their specific needs,” explained Kevin Miranda, Brand Marketing Manager, MAC Safety, Inc.

“If contractors are building a site, MAC Safety will oversee the entire site. We make sure everything is compliant from laws imposed by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other government agencies to rules appointed by the company to our own guidelines at MAC Safety,” informed Miranda, who added, “We’ll have an employee on site—and sometimes there are three to five employees on one site or multiple sites, depending on what the job requires. The employee(s) could facilitate any circumstances that arise faster and easier.”

Chris Miranda, President and Founder, MAC Safety, Inc., explained, “MAC Safety basically has two audits or assessments. The first one is a basic 26-point session, which is more of a site assessment that steps through an actual mock OSHA audit. We break that down to be more site-specific. We also use an actual construction site audit. Due to the fact that we’ve had a lot of people who have been through actual OSHA walkthroughs in their own careers, we’re able to pinpoint what some of the actual high profile driving points are based on what’s going on at that site. If there is live gas, what exactly have employees gone through as far as training? What precautions are they taking? If we’re still on the construction side, maybe it’s just more about are people trained to be operating heavy equipment? Are they trained to operate aerial lifts? You are able to assess it that way.”

ong2Relating MAC Safety to an “insurance policy”, Kevin Miranda says, “Ninety percent of clients are not aware of all potential problems. MAC Safety is not there to make life harder or to hold things up. We come in and make sure the job is done in a safe manner by using the right equipment and procedures. It’s the culture we raise and what sets us apart. Our mission is to make sure everyone gets home safely.”

Kevin Miranda relayed that companies hire MAC Safety because they provide “full-time answers without becoming a full-time employee.” Therefore, the company doesn’t need to pay benefits for a temporary project. In addition, the company is hiring MAC Safety, a company who is constantly on top of all laws and regulations. “They may be obtaining one MAC Safety employee on site, but in reality, they’re getting a team of workers taking care of their needs,” added Kevin Miranda.

Safety Programs

Each company working in the shale oil and gas industry is different. However, operators often share a common contractor workforce. For years these contractors were required to complete separate but similar safety orientations for each operator, which resulted in wasting both time and resources. Therefore a group of operators united to develop a widely accepted, standardized safety and environmental orientation, SafeLandUSA (SLUSA) Orientation, which would be accepted by all of them. The intent was to set high minimum requirements with the primary goal of reducing the number of preventable incidents in the shale oil and gas industry to zero accidents.


“SafeLand has become a very common class. In order for employees on certain sites to do their work, SafeLand classes have to be provided. Outside of that, your core classes have to give a level of awareness. From that point, you’re going to go through site-specific training. We can provide that training or assist in the site’s ability to provide training to all construction workers. It starts to segue into what you’re actually going to be doing. Are you going to be doing confined space work or do you have to use aerial equipment? If so, then you’re looking for that type of training. It keeps moving on with electrical safety. Or if you’ll be on aerial lifts have your people gone through fall protection training? That may layer into lockout/tagout training. It kind of keeps layering depending on the actual job you’re going to be doing,” explained Chris Miranda, who is certified to administer SafeLand training.

The SafeLandUSA Orientation is a single day training course that lasts around eight hours. The training covers a vast array of topics including: Incident Reporting and Investigation; Accident Prevention Signs and Tags; Hand Safety; Material Handling; Behavioral Safety; First-Aid/CPR/AED Considerations; Confined Space; Lockout/Tagout; Drug and Alcohol/Substance Abuse; Hazard Communication; Electrical Safety; Intervention/Stop Work Authority; Fire Prevention and Portable Fire Extinguishers; Walking Working Surfaces; Job Safety Analysis/Pre-Job Planning; Personal Protective Equipment, Respiratory; Prevention of Workplace Violence; Working at Heights; Permit to Work; Driver Safety/Transportation Safety; Environmental; Excavation/Trenching and Shoring; Industrial Hygiene/Occupational Health; and Site Specific Hazards and Emergency Evacuation.

“SafeLand is a way to ensure that they have had at least the minimum requirements. The popularity of SafeLandUSA continues to grow each year, which helps achieve the common goal of keeping shale oil and gas sites and workers safe. No more than 25 students are allowed in a particular class. If a student passes the SafeLandUSA Orientation Training, they will get a permanent ID sent to them. Once they receive the ID, no recertification is necessary as the orientation remains with the employee throughout their career,” relayed Ray Pader, CEO, Shale Markets, LLC.

shale marketsShale Markets, LLC offers SafeLand Orientation Training up to twice a month. The seminars are held in Bentleyville, PA at the Holiday Inn Express and in Monroeville, PA at the Holiday Inn. Both February and March’s seminars will be held in Monroeville on the 3rd of the month from 8am to 5pm. Bentleyville classes will resume in April. The cost is $195 per student and includes breakfast, lunch, and snacks. Visit ShaleMarkets.com and click on SafeLand Training for more information or to register.

All Around Safety

Safety is paramount in the shale oil and gas industry. It could mean the difference between preventing and incurring a serious injury, or worse yet—the difference between life and death. For more on Mustang Oilfield Services, check out their website here or call 740-449-2183. For more information on MAC Safety, Inc., visit their website here or contact them by calling 724-847-3331 or emailing info@macsafety.us.

Shale Media Group (SMG) is the news, information, and education resource dedicated to the shale oil and gas industries by messaging across video, Internet, publications, events, and radio. For more, check out ShaleMediaGroup.com to access all platforms, including SMG’s latest news delivery system–Shale Energy Business Briefing (SEBB), an ad-free subscription based service, where subscribers receive a real-time, daily email, featuring concise, hard hitting shale news 7 days/week, 365 days/year. To sign up, go to sebb.us. In addition, join us on February 26th for our next Elite Energy Event in at the Holiday Inn in Monroeville, PA from 5-8pm. Kristie Kubovic is the Director of Communications at Shale Media Group. Contact her at Kristie@ShaleMediaGroup.com.

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