Video Addresses Exposure to Hydrocarbon Gases, Vapors in Oil and Gas Work
NIOSH and the Occupational Health Branch of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recently released a new video highlighting the hazards that oil and gas extraction workers face when measuring oil storage tanks. Exposure to hydrocarbon gases and vapors and oxygen-deficient atmospheres are among the occupational hazards associated with opening tank hatches to manually gauge or collect fluid samples from production tanks. According to NIOSH, these exposures can have immediate health effects that can result in dizziness and disorientation, loss of consciousness, or sudden cardiac death. At least nine deaths of oil and gas workers in 2010–2014 were associated with exposure to high concentrations of hydrocarbon gases and vapors and to oxygen deficiency during manual tank gauging and sampling. The potential for fires and explosions also exists in this work.
The 13-minute video, available on the NIOSH website, conveys the experiences of oil and gas workers responsible for measuring tank levels through interviews with a truck owner/operator, a company operations superintendent, and the widow of a man who died of sudden cardiac death while gauging. The new video also outlines steps that employers and workers can take to reduce injuries and fatalities in the oil and gas industry.
Much of the information covered in the video is also available in a joint hazard alert published by OSHA and NIOSH last year. The alert identifies recommendations for employers regarding manual tank gauging and fluid sample collection that cover engineering controls, work practices, and personal protective equipment.