Reconfirming the need for strengthening oil and gas industry education and training is the “The 1ppm (parts per million) Hydrogen Sulfide Threshold: Are you prepared?” survey completed by Dräger, an international leader in the fields of medical and safety technology, in association with the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), the world’s oldest professional safety society. Dräger announced the results of the survey today which uncovered that more than half (53%) of safety experts in the oil and gas industry are unaware of new standards set by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) that may help decrease deaths caused by the inhalation of hazardous gas, specifically hydrogen sulfide (H2S).
An odorless, colorless gas commonly referred to as sewer gas and stink damp, H2S remains the leading cause of death among gas inhalation-related deaths in the workplace. The guidelines – not legal requirements – recently recommended by ACGIH for H2S limits include:
- Threshold Limit Value (TLV): 1 ppm
- Time Weighted Average (TWA): 1.4 mg/m3
- Short Term Exposure Level (STEL): 5 ppm, 7.0mg/m3
Beyond establishing that there is a general lack of awareness surrounding the H2S guidelines, the survey also uncovered other notable observations including:
Short-term Impact On Hygiene Practices: The majority (76%) of safety experts who know about the new standards reported no urgency to adopt them, despite the increased safety that can result.
Current Alarm Levels Vary Greatly: Companies reported using a variety of alarm levels: 39% using 10 ppm and 15 ppm; 35% using 5 ppm and 10 ppm; and 15% using 10 ppm and 20 ppm.
Few Have Made Recent Adjustments to Their H2S limits, Few Plan To Do So: Of those companies that have not adopted the new ACGIH guidance, only 24% have adjusted their H2S limits within the last three years. Moreover, only 34% anticipate adjusting their current H2S limits in the near future.
Most Believe Detection Below 1 ppm is Important, But Few Think Existing Instruments Can Do It: Most safety engineers surveyed (64%) believe that it is important that instruments are able to detect below 1 ppm. However, only 41% believe that a 1 ppm H2S resolution can be seen with accuracy in personal monitoring instruments, and 74% are concerned that with the 1 ppm resolution there will be an increase in false readings.
Majority Think New Standards Would Increase Costs: The majority (70%) of respondents think adopting the 1 ppm levels in their workplace would affect worker-protection costs.
Almost All Use Personal Monitoring Instruments: 92% of those companies surveyed use personal monitoring instruments as a part of their Industrial Hygiene program.
For Bump Tests and Calibration: 55% use an internal electronic/mechanical docking station to complete checks and record results; 31% manually calibrate the instruments via direct flow of calibration gas and record the results; and 14% use a third party to conduct calibrations and a manual application of gas for bump tests.
Knowledge of Using Pentane and Methane: When survey participants were asked if they were aware of the concerns with using pentane as the only gas source for calibration of catalytic sensors in gas monitoring instruments, a little more than half (53%) were unaware of the concerns or that this practice is recommended. 47% were aware that methane should be used for periodic testing as well.
Comments from participants also indicated there is significant interest in the issue of H2S safety and health and this is the first step in identifying methods and technologies to assist in preventing injuries and fatalities resulting from H2S exposure.
Unlocking Potential for Safer Work Environments
While the new H2S limits are recommendations and carry no legal obligations at this time, the message is clear. There is a strong belief by agencies, such as ACGIH, that these exposure levels will create a safer work environment. Therefore, it is likely that there will be a wider acceptance and implementation among industrial hygienists and safety professionals as more data becomes available.
Forward-thinking companies will be preparing for the evolution of these standards by considering steps that support these lower limits before they become mandatory. The potential benefits – both in terms of worker safety and cost savings – are significant.
For a copy of the study or the white paper email Robert.Zurek@draeger.com.
Dräger. Technology for Life®
Dräger is an international leader in the fields of medical and safety technology. Our products protect, support and save lives. Founded in 1889, in 2012 Dräger generated revenues of around
EUR 2.37 billion. The Dräger Group is currently present in more than 190 countries and has about 12,500 employees worldwide. Please visit www.draeger.com for more information.
About American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE)
Founded in 1911, ASSE has more than 35,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members who lead, manage, supervise, research and consult on safety, health, transportation and environmental issues in all industries, government, labor, health care and education. For more information please go to asse.org.