Tank Gauging Hazard Alert

Thursday, February 18, 2016 @ 02:02 PM gHale

For oil and gas industry workers who manually gauge or sample fluids on production and flowback tanks there is a new hazard alert that identifies health and safety issues.

This alert ended up triggered by a series of preventable deaths related to manual gauging of tanks, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

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The new alert, “Health and Safety Risks for Workers Involved in Manual Tank Gauging and Sampling at Oil and Gas Extraction Sites“, provides recommendations for employers that will protect workers from hazards associated with opening tank hatches to manually gauge or sample hydrocarbon levels.

The recommendations fall into three main categories: Engineering controls, work practices, and personal protective equipment.

“It has been known for years that oil and gas extraction is extremely dangerous work, with high rates of workplace fatalities. We also know that every incident is preventable,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “It’s critically important that we all work together to make sure that oil and gas extraction workers are aware of life-threatening exposure to hydrocarbon gases and vapors and low oxygen atmospheres, and that they are protected.”

“The expansion of the oil and gas extraction industry has led to new opportunities, but also new risks for workers,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “This joint alert highlights the importance of remaining vigilant about the safety and health of our nation’s workers as our nation changes and adapts to these new opportunities.”

The alert highlights research from OSHA and NIOSH which has shown workers at oil and gas extraction sites may suffer exposure to very high concentrations of hydrocarbon gases and vapors when manually gauging or sampling production tanks. Workers also face the risk of fires or explosions from high concentrations of hydrocarbon gas and vapors. These activities can also result in oxygen-deficient environments, which can cause loss of consciousness and death. OSHA and NIOSH identified nine fatalities to workers manually gauging or sampling production tanks during 2010-2014.