The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released a hazard alert that addresses minimizing the level of vapor exposure risk for workers carrying out fluids transfer processes in the oil and gas industry.
Gases and vapors generated from produced fluids in the oilfield that are not properly contained have the potential to pose a serious health risk. Hazardous gases and vapors, hydrogen sulfide, potential flammable and explosive atmospheres, and associated oxygen displacement can surround a truck during fluid transfer. If these gases and vapors are allowed to accumulate, and unshielded oilfield workers become exposed, it can lead to multiple short and long-term illnesses that can often be fatal.
This hazard alert describes ways that workers should be trained in the hazards and safe operations of fluid transfer. The alert also details the controls that should be developed and implemented by all employers engaged in the production, transportation and receipt of produced fluids.
These hazards include:
- Toxic/flammable gas and vapors released from truck vents while transferring products
- Toxic/flammable gas and vapors that collect in low areas, confined spaces, and spread through the site
- Flammable and explosive atmospheres during loading/off-loading
- Possible oxygen-deficient atmospheres, which can lead to unconsciousness or death
This release is the latest part of OSHA’s ongoing effort to help raise awareness of hazards faced by oil and gas workers and the actions necessary to eliminate or minimize the injury potential in the field. Whenever new, potentially dangerous working conditions are reported, OSHA will study the data and release new hazard alerts with the intention of decreasing employer and employee exposure to those working conditions.
Phillip DeBauche, Director, Environmental and Technical, writes about the Council’s environmental efforts. Click here to subscribe to the Council’s newsletter, which highlights industry practices, workforce development, Council activities and more.