Avoiding a Bakken Oil Field Construction Injury: Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is worn by workers in the Bakken oil field to prevent or minimize construction injuries common to a particular work environment. According to OSHA, it's the employer's responsibility to provide PPE and ensure that their workers are using the gear. Employers must also provide training on how and when personal protective equipment is to be used, its proper care and maintenance, and its limitations. Employers are required to assess work environments to determine which PPE is appropriate for the specific hazards.

Commonly used personal protective equipment includes:

Head Protection

This typically means hard hats. Being struck by a falling or flying object and striking one's head against fixed objects are typical hazards in construction work environments. Hard hats must have the ability to absorb impact and resist penetration. They must also provide protection against electrical shock when electrical hazards are present.

Eye and Face Protection

The type of eye and face protection required depends on the specific hazards of the work area. For many environments, mechanical impact with the eye is the only danger, and impact resistant safety glasses that guard against front and side impacts are sufficient. Other environments may present chemical splash hazards or intense electromagnetic radiation exposure (such as arc welding flash) and will require specialized eye protection and possibly face protection.

Hearing Protection

If communicating with nearby workers requires shouting or if the work environment causes ringing in the ears, then hearing loss is a real danger. Hearing protection equipment can be either earplugs or earmuffs. Earmuffs aren't to be mistaken for the kind that keeps the ears warm. Rather, they typically have a hard outer shell with sound absorbing foam on the inside and are sold explicitly for noise reduction.

Respiratory Protection

Airborne health hazards common to construction environments include dust, silica particles, fibers, paint spray droplets, fumes, and toxic gas or airborne particles. Respiratory protection may consist of respirators with filter elements or a self-contained breathing apparatus. Depending on the nature of the hazard, failing to wear the right respiratory protection may cause death within minutes or hours or a long-term respiratory health condition.

Other common PPE is foot protection that supports the ankle and protects the toes, as well as hand protection that guards against pinching, cuts, abrasion, friction burns, or chemical hazards.

An employer that fails to meet OSHA's PPE requirements endangers the health, safety, and possibly the lives of their workers. If you suffered a debilitating construction injury while working in the Bakken oil field, contact us for legal advice.