Posted on behalf of Stephens, Anderson & Cummings on Feb 15, 2016 in Personal Injury
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a new hazard alert identifying health and safety risks for oil and gas industry workers regarding manual tank gauging — this practice has led to a number of job-site deaths, which could have been prevented.
When oil workers perform tank gauging or fluid sampling manually, they are exposed to dangerously high levels of hydrocarbon gases and vapors, as well as a highly flammable environment. With little oxygen available in this atmosphere, exposure can be deadly if the proper safety measures are not taken.
Deaths Associated with Manual Tank Gauging
Investigations have uncovered nine fatalities between 2010 and 2014 that were associated with manual tank gauging and fluid sampling. In every case, the worker was alone and not being monitored by another coworker. In each case, the unprotected over exposure to hydrocarbon gases, along with displaced oxygen was the main factor or a significant contributor to the fatality.
Exposure to these gases has an effect on the central nervous system as well as the lungs and eyes. When oxygen is displaced, sudden death due to abnormal heart rhythms can occur.
Recommendations to Employers
To protect their workforce, OSHA recommends that employers take proper precautions. These include:
- Using engineering controls designed to reduce exposure to gases and vapors, such as blow-down valves, sampling taps, thief hatch pressure indicators or switching to remote or automatic gauging and fluid sampling.
- Alter workplace practices, making it a standard protocol to work upwind and distance workers from open hatches.
- Require the use of personal protective equipment, including clothing made of flame retardant materials, respiratory protectors and gloves which cannot be penetrated.
The oil and gas injury lawyers at Stephens, Anderson & Cummings are dedicated to helping oil workers and their families gain the compensation they need to cover medical bills and other expenses associated with their workplace injuries.