Reducing oil and gas workers exposure to vapors
A Monday morning session will explore hazards associated with hydrocarbon vapors and gases in the upstream onshore oil & gas industry identifying common tasks with potential for exposure. The focus will be on control measures, safe work practices, air monitoring procedures and PPE requirements. The session will reference NIOSH studies and blog posts.
In February, OSHA and NIOSH issued a new hazard alert that identifies health and safety risks to oil and gas industry workers who manually gauge or sample fluids on production and flowback tanks. It was triggered by a series of preventable deaths related to manual gauging of tanks.
The alert, “Health and Safety Risks for Workers Involved in Manual Tank Gauging and Sampling at Oil and Gas Extraction Sites”, provides specific recommendations for employers that will protect workers from hazards associated with opening tank hatches to manually gauge or sample hydrocarbon levels. The recommendations fall into three main categories: engineering controls, work practices, and personal protective equipment.
"It has been known for years that oil and gas extraction is extremely dangerous work, with high rates of workplace fatalities. We also know that every incident is preventable," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "It's critically important that we all work together to make sure that oil and gas extraction workers are aware of life-threatening exposure to hydrocarbon gases and vapors and low oxygen atmospheres, and that they are protected."
"The expansion of the oil and gas extraction industry has led to new opportunities, but also new risks for workers," said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. "This joint alert highlights the importance of remaining vigilant about the safety and health of our nation's workers as our nation changes and adapts to these new opportunities."
The alert highlights research from both OSHA and NIOSH, which has shown that workers at oil and gas extraction sites may be exposed to very high concentrations of hydrocarbon gases and vapors when manually gauging or sampling production tanks. Workers also face the risk of fires or explosions from high concentrations of hydrocarbon gas and vapors. These activities can also result in oxygen-deficient environments, which can cause loss of consciousness and death.