One of the scariest threats to workers in the oil industry is exposure to harmful substances. For example, oil rigs and fields can contain hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide is a gas that can cause death within seconds of exposure. An effective exposure control plan can prevent these types of accidents.
Industrial Safety & Hygiene News (ISHN) recently published an eBook that discussed the dangers of light hydrocarbon exposure.
ISHN argued that companies give too much attention to hydrogen sulfide while ignoring risks caused by other light hydrocarbons. Light hydrocarbons include butane, pentane and hexane. Exposure to light hydrocarbons can cause central nervous system depression and death.
The eBook describes the death of a 57-year-old trucker who lost his life while servicing an oil tank. Before filling up his load, the trucker took measurements of the tank. This required him to pop open the thief hatch on top of the tank. He was later found dead next to the hatch by his fellow workers.
So what happened? After all, the trucker had used a meter that can detect hydrogen sulfide gas. As it turns out, he did not have the correct tools or training to detect the light hydrocarbons we have mentioned. An OSHA investigation revealed the company responsible for hiring the contractor told its workers to ‘stand upwind’ to prevent exposure.
This story and the risks caused by hydrocarbons show the need for effective exposure control plans.
What Are Exposure Control Plans?
Exposure control plans identify risks to workers and create the means to control those risks. The plans also identify the responsibilities of employers, supervisors and workers in preventing exposure. Training and equipment are also necessary because all parties must know what to do in the event of an emergency.
Employers should develop plans to decontaminate workers exposed to harmful substances. Finally, effective exposure control plans should track the health of workers.
Accidents on oil rigs and fields are preventable. The 57-year-old man we discussed in this blog left behind five children. No family should ever have to experience such a severe pain of loss.
The Louisiana personal injury attorneys at Galloway Jefcoat are dedicated to helping workers who have been injured by negligent businesses.