On January 15, 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a study entitled “Sudden Deaths Among Oil and Gas Extraction Workers Resulting from Oxygen Deficiency and Inhalation of Hydrocarbon Gases and Vapors.” The study reported a total of nine deaths among the oil and gas extraction workers over a period from January 2010 to March 2015.
In the study, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) pointed to a high exposure of hydrocarbons and gases as well as oxygen deficiency atmospheres “after opening the hatches of hydrocarbon storage tanks” as the most probable causes of workers’ deaths.
As a result of their findings, scientists from OSHA and NIOSH issued a Tank Hazard Alert during the last summer and BLM proposed new regulations in September 2015 to improve best practices during tank gauging opening. The study recommends that oil and gas workers should not be left alone during such activity and that “health and safety professionals need to recognize and act on nonfatal warning signs and symptoms, such as dizziness, confusion, immobility, and collapse in oil and gas workers.”
Written by Chloe Marie - Research Fellow