NIOSH video tells truckers about safe transfer of process fluids

Original article published by Safety+Health
Photo: NIOSH

Washington — A new video emphasizes safe work practices for truck drivers transferring process fluids such as oil and gas from wells to other locations.

Developed by NIOSH, the video notes that from 2016 to 2020, at least 12 workers died while transferring fluids at well sites. The deaths resulted from cardiac events, combustion-related explosions, struck-by vehicle incidents, exposure to hydrogen sulfide and heatstroke.

During fluid transfers, flammable atmospheres present a hazard to workers, the agency warns. In addition, when fluid tanks are under pressure, hydrocarbon gases and vapors can escape, creating potentially toxic and oxygen-deficient surroundings that may cause damage to a worker’s eyes, lungs, central nervous system and heart.

In the 11-minute video, NIOSH encourages employers to select and implement effective controls from the Hierarchy of Controls. Engineering controls include safely venting or containing process fluid vapors by using a vapor recovery unit, as well as using conducting hoses and closed connections for fluid transfers. Administrative controls include worker training and workplace policies. Employers also should train workers on the proper use of personal, multiuse gas monitors and how to confirm the devices are functioning properly and placed within the worker’s breathing zone.

“Oil and process fluids can be transferred and transported safely and with minimal risks,” the video says. “But to do so, employers and workers must understand the hazards, know the risks, and be able to apply the appropriate controls under the appropriate circumstances to control the hazards and mitigate the risks involved. Doing so each time will save lives.”

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Study explores top causes of driving-related deaths in oil and gas extraction industry

Original article published by Safety+Health

Washington — For oil and gas extraction workers, a combination of extended work hours, long commutes and insufficient sleep increases their odds of engaging in risky driving behaviors, according to a recent NIOSH study.

A previous study from the Centers for Disease Control in Prevention found that motor vehicle-related crashes are the leading cause of work-related deaths in the industry. To explore the underlying causes, NIOSH researchers – from October 2017 to February 2019 – surveyed 500 oil and gas extraction workers in Colorado, North Dakota and Texas.

Almost two-thirds of the respondents reported working 12 or more hours a day, while nearly half slept less than seven hours a night. The average round-trip commute time was about two hours. About a quarter of the workers reported falling asleep while operating a work vehicle or feeling “extremely drowsy” while driving at work more than once a month. Additionally, 17% said they nearly had crashed while driving at work within the past week.

Findings also show that although a majority of the workers’ employers had established vehicle safety policies covering near-miss crash reporting, fewer than half of the respondents indicated their employers’ policies included journey management (47%), fatigue management (42%) and maximum work hours (39%).

“These results underscore the need for employer policies to prevent risky driving events among workers in oil and gas extraction,” NIOSH says, adding that those policies should include “programs to limit long work hours, reduce long daily commutes, promote sufficient sleep and reduce drowsy driving.”

The study was published online in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

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