There is little doubt now that, with the advancing technology in the oil and gas exploration industry, there is a new energy boom in North America. From the Bakken oil shale fields in North Dakota, to shale around Prudhoe Bay in Alaska, and of course  the new resources in western Canadian provinces like Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan, the development of oil and natural gas has dramatically increased.

Fracking and other technological advancements have a lot to do with the progress, allowing companies to extract oil and natural gas from areas that were untouchable 20 and 30 years ago. So while the technology in fossil fuels has not fossilized, the innovations have increased the oil and gas work force and put many more people in the fields.

[Image courtesy of Flickr user Robert Nunnally via a Creative Commons license] Thanks to fracking and other advancements, there has been an oil and gas boom in North America. And with increased hiring and production, it is important for the oil and gas industry to re-evaluate safety protocols that might have gotten outdated from the last energy boom.

And that means more opportunities to promote proper health and safety – and also adds new and increased risks on the work site.

And if it has been a generation since you really went through a hiring spree in the oil and gas industry, is it possible that your health and safety guidelines might be fossilizing in a desk drawer at work?

As anyone knows, we as humans have to be adaptable to change, especially as technology changes in our industry.  The same goes for our health and safety protocols. As technology advances with the goal of increasing efficiency, it also aims to improve safety of workers. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But regardless, if we have not reviewed our safety protocols for our workers in the last few years, we could very easily be dramatically altering the risks in the negative direction as the oil and gas industry continues to grow and we find ourselves having to hire more and more workers in the fields.

Jean Lian, editor of OHS Canada magazine, looked deeper into steps the Canadian oil and gas industry is taking to revamp and update its occupational health and safety codes, and wrote an article about it in the May/June 2015 issue regarding the Petroleum Safety Conference held in Banff, Alberta, back in May.

Chances are, if you are in the oil and gas industry in the western Canadian provinces, then some of what will be covered in these next couple of posts will not be surprising. But for the rest of you, there may be some things discussed that you may be able to take back with you into your own states or companies to address improved and more up-to-date safety standards that reflect the new state of the industry.

This latest safety conference comes in the wake of encouraging news regarding safety in the oil and gas fields. It was reported recently that B.C. and Saskatchewan time-lost rates in oil and gas have made a downward trend since 2011. And part of that is due to the new health and safety code for the oil and gas industry, which has some revisions to it last winter hat are now being implemented.

In my next post, I will dissect more of Lian’s article, especially the section called “High Stakes.” It can be a soberting read, but an empowering one as well.