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Many pump jacks turn on and off by an automatic timer. In Oklahoma City, well owners are required to fence their machinery, but there is no requirement to hide or key the manual on-off switch, from the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board, which cleans up abandoned oil wells and educates the public about the industry.
Well Site Safety Fast Facts
Oilfield equipment can be extremely dangerous, and people should not “hang around” tank batteries and pumping units. Some of the dangers are:
• The smallest spark—especially a cigarette or lighter—can cause an explosion from fumes or flammable liquids.
• Anyone opening a hatch might be overcome with fumes and pass out.
• The stairs and rails, which can be as high as two stories, can be covered with oil and be slippery, causing someone to fall down the stairways or over the side.
• The counterweights weigh up to 20,000 pounds, and will crush a human body without stopping. Anyone falling off the beam or trying to ride the weights can be seriously injured or accidentally killed.
• Anyone trying to grab the cable or the front of the unit can have their hands cut off as the cable travels up and down.
• The numerous moving parts of a pumping unit can catch, then injure, or even kill, a person.
Electrical boxes, wires and components operate at high voltage. Anyone touching them could receive serious electrical shock.
**NOTE: Even if a pumping unit is stopped, it is not safe. Many units are on timers which can start without warning, causing harm if a person is on the unit.
• Some heater treaters (long, tall tanks) operate at extreme temperatures which could cause burns.
• Many fences are topped with barbed or razor wire, which could cause serious injury.
• Pipelines could leak or explode if tampered with by untrained personnel.
• Chemicals are sometimes used at oilfield sites and could cause burns if touched.
Try to remember that what appears to be fun may end up deadly or maiming. I would caution when they hear stories about riding oil or pump jacks, or messing with them, to just write that off. It's not fun when something bad happens.
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