OSHA Warns Oil Workers about Risks in Manual Gauging of Tanks
Posted on behalf of Edwards Law Firm on Feb 18, 2016 in Oilfield Accidents
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) have identified significant safety and health risks that workers face at oil and gas extraction sites.
Workers that manually open and gauge tank hatches to collect fluid samples on flow-back, production or other tanks that contain process fluids are called “thief hatches.” These “thief hatches” can be exposed to fires and explosions, hydrocarbon gases and vapors and oxygen deficient atmospheres when they work on production and flow-back tanks.
Manual tank gauging poses serious and immediate health effects to workers, including loss of consciousness and death.
Between 2010 and 2014, OSHA and NIOSH identified nine incidents where workers died from manually gauging or sampling production tanks. A primary factor of these deaths appear to be from concentrated amounts of hydrocarbon gases and vapors, which create an oxygen-deficient environment and exceed the lower explosive limit creating a greater chance of fire and explosions.
Workers exposed to hydrocarbon gases and vapors can suffer issues with their eyes, lungs and central nervous system. The exposure can lead to abnormal heart rhythms and ventricular fibrillation of the heart, which can cause death. Even the briefest exposure to such vapors can cause difficulty breathing, depravation of oxygen and cardiac arrhythmias.
Some hydrocarbons are also known carcinogens.
Though environmental factors like low wind speed and higher altitudes can lead to an increased risk of exposure, other factors like human error can lead to exposure to hydrocarbon gases.
In recent years, oil field workers have been at an increased risk of injuries due to the rise of oil production in the United States. With over 50 years of combined experience in these cases, our attorneys at Edwards Law seek to protect innocent workers and fight for their maximum injury compensation.
If you or a loved one have been the victim of an oilfield accident or exposure to chemicals and vapors, contact the oil field worker attorneys at Edwards Law for a free case evaluation.