Safety – Oil + Gas Monitor http://www.oilgasmonitor.com Your Monitor for the Oil & Gas Industry Mon, 15 Aug 2016 06:57:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.9 Sensor Sensibility: Choosing the Correct Sensor for the Job http://www.oilgasmonitor.com/sensor-sensibility-choosing-correct-sensor-job/ Wed, 20 Apr 2016 14:29:57 +0000 http://www.oilgasmonitor.com/?p=11274 Larry Medina | Draeger Safety, Inc. In many scenarios, 15 seconds is not a significant amount of time; however, in the oil and gas industry, this small interval can mean the difference between life, health hazards and even death for onsite workers. In such events, having equipment that’s reliable and designed to quickly alert workers […]

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April 20, 2016
Larry Medina | Draeger Safety, Inc.

In many scenarios, 15 seconds is not a significant amount of time; however, in the oil and gas industry, this small interval can mean the difference between life, health hazards and even death for onsite workers. In such events, having equipment that’s reliable and designed to quickly alert workers of the presence of hazardous gas is crucial for protection and an effective evacuation, if necessary. Through history, the benefits of sensor technology have rarely received the standalone praise they deserve, oftentimes packaged into the advantages afforded by safety solutions. Yet the faster and more intelligent sensor speeds of today allow workers to put time back on their side, and ensure that those 15 second intervals are not taken for granted. To provide this protection to their workers, companies must fully understand the capabilities of their detection device suite in order to safeguard against their site’s specific challenges.

 The importance of sensor sensitivity
The evolution of sensor technology has given onsite workers an additional layer of safety, specifically through improved sensitivity, accuracy and more intelligent information channeling. The value of understanding a device’s capabilities and limitations are illustrated through the example of how a sensor’s t90 time (the amount of time required for a sensor to measure 90 percent of a test gas concentration) can vary the degree of impact that hydrogen sulfide (H2S) has on exposed workers.

Worker A is wearing a device with a sensor with a t90 of 15 seconds versus Worker B, wearing a sensor with t90 time of 25 to 40 seconds. Initially, neither device records a reaction, despite the simultaneous exposure to H2S. At 15 seconds, however, Worker A’s device begins to register a gas reading while Worker B’s device has yet to register a reading. Due to the device with a longer t90 time, Worker B could begin to experience effects from the H2S exposure before the alarm alerts of the surrounding H2S level.

Fortunately for Worker A, his device responds faster and goes into an A2 alarm, notifying the worker of the hazardous environment, prompting an evacuation of the dangerous area. It will take additional time before Worker B’s device alarm activates, at which point the level of exposure may only continue to worsen, and the worker may suffer from eye irritation, headache, dizziness, nausea, throat and eye irritation, coughing and breathing difficulty.

The benefits afforded by a sensor’s features not only can help create more intelligent work practices, but also protect a company’s most valuable asset—its workers.

 Understanding “pressure compensation”
In addition to a sensor’s speed, companies must recognize how the sensor’s technology performs under the disturbance of outside factors. Sensors rely on their programming and internal mechanisms in order to function, and when these features are married to the understanding of a specific worksite’s areas of risk, this knowledge can help guide smarter sensor selections.

One such sensor feature is its ability to calibrate at one pressure and measure at another (+/-30%). This “pressure compensation” helps devices maintain accuracy as the pressure fluctuates, resulting in fewer false alarms and fewer wasted efforts. The benefits are most noticeable in sudden elevation changes, like those experienced in elevators and meteorological changes such as standard weather fronts. If workers can rely on their equipment to accurately measure surrounding influences, they can truly respect and value the device’s reading when it signals the presence of danger.

 Make informed choices
While durability may be often more associated with a device’s outer casing and shell, it’s an important consideration for sensor conversation. Although many safety solutions are designed to meet, if not surpass, their target exposure limits, the continued use creates wear and tear on the equipment and its features — including the sensors. Since a sensor’s durability and therefore its operating lifespan are inherently linked, manufacturers’ understanding of this important connection may design their sensors so as not to degrade with direct proportional exposure to toxins. Having this knowledge as an end user can aid in the evaluation and selection process of a gas detection manufacturer. Subsequently, it also helps to ease the decision-making burden of choosing the right device for unique site challenges since the identified manufacturer’s solutions have been known to withstand the test of time.

What’s more, these nuances will feed into the gas detector’s total cost of ownership, making them particularly valuable for those with purchasing power to understand. These devices will provide a significantly higher return as their greater durability will make them less susceptible to breakdowns, ultimately resulting in reduced downtime, more time on tools and greater insurance for worker safety.

Having respect for greater onsite safety also means having respect for the value the equipment affords. Companies and workers who understand the importance of a sensor’s speed and respect its influence will only strengthen their safety culture and position themselves for a safer and smarter future.

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Silica Sand About to Take Center Stage in Oil and Gas http://www.oilgasmonitor.com/silica-sand-about-to-take-center-stage-in-oil-and-gas/ Mon, 11 Jan 2016 12:00:27 +0000 http://www.oilgasmonitor.com/?p=10677 Matthew Navea | Preferred Sands For those in the oil and gas industry, 2015 might be a year they wish to forget – and for good reason. The price of oil steadily declined over the previous year, a trend that is expected to continue into 2016 due to a surplus of oil caused by increased […]

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January 11, 2016
Matthew Navea | Preferred Sands

For those in the oil and gas industry, 2015 might be a year they wish to forget – and for good reason. The price of oil steadily declined over the previous year, a trend that is expected to continue into 2016 due to a surplus of oil caused by increased production overseas. It’s not all bad though.
 
Despite analysts’ low forecasts, the oil and gas industry is still taking positive steps forward. One of those steps is improving worker safety at the wellsite, which I expect will be a major focus of many oil and gas companies in the coming year.

You might be wondering, why now? Don’t companies always make the safety of their employees a top priority? That answer is yes. However, there is one major change in regulation on the horizon that is sure to impact the way the industry operates moving forward.

Silica sand, a key ingredient in hydraulic fracturing operations, is about to take center stage.

Workers engaged in the frac sand supply chain and in hydraulic fracturing can be at risk for developing silicosis. Silicosis is an incurable but preventable disease, caused by the inhalation and retention of free silica. Once enough silica has been retained within the lungs, inflammation and scar tissue can create lifelong lung damage. For individuals with moderate to severe silicosis, the prognosis is poor – only the symptoms can be treated. Silicosis is one of the oldest occupational diseases that has been researched, and cases can be traced back to ancient Egypt.
Based on recent data from the US Census Bureau and other industry sources, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that nearly two million workers in the U.S. are at risk of silica exposure, and more than 100,000 of those workers are in high-risk jobs.

In 2013, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) published a study1 which found that worker exposure to silica sand in hydraulic fracturing “routinely exceeded occupational criteria, and, in some cases, up to 10 or more times.”

OSHA has focused on reducing the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) to crystalline silica for some time. This has culminated in a new proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in September 2013. The NPRM proposes a host of changes to the existing rule as well as a significant reduction to the PEL for crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, decreasing PELs by about half. Since the NPRM proposal in 2013, OSHA heard from more than 200 stakeholders and received more than 1,700 comments, which are expected to influence the final rule, projected to be completed in February 2016.

The proposed reduced PEL would be applicable to construction and general industry, which includes companies engaged in hydraulic fracturing. It is widely expected that the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) will also revise their standard to reduce their exposure limit.

Berkley Research GroupBased on recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau and industry sources, OSHA estimates that roughly 25,000 workers in 444 establishments (operated by 200 business entities) engaged in hydraulic fracturing would be affected by the proposed standards.

The hydraulic fracturing industry is eager to optimize worker safety, and with a national spotlight on the industry and its wellbeing, it is more important than ever that we prioritize silica exposure and keep our employees safe.

NIOSH has identified several ways to control silica dust at the work site, as outlined in the hierarchy of controls. Personal respiratory protection is among the most common controls at the wellsite, though the Center for Disease Control reports that, independently, these will not adequately protect workers from the dangers of silica dust. In fact, OSHA has cited companies in the past for relying on such equipment as a primary protection for workers.

And while engineering controls, such as mechanical ventilation and vacuum systems, are preferred over administrative controls, they are still flawed. For example, mechanical ventilation requires the installation of dust collection units, routine field modifications, which can lead variable effectiveness, tripping hazards and maintenance hassles.

While elimination is the most effective control at reducing silica dust, it is very challenging to implement. Second only to water, frac sand is the most common component in the hydraulic fracturing process. Rather than eliminating frac sand from the recipe, I expect that companies will begin to implement innovative dust-control products, such as treated sands or other types of proppants.

By using dust-control treated proppants, oil and gas companies can meet OSHA’s new regulations and effectively eliminate fugitive dust. These proppants also allow companies to remove unnecessary bulky equipment, which eliminates dozens of unsafe tripping hazards, provides easier access to critical equipment – including the blender and transfer belt areas – and most importantly, increases well-site efficiency.

With OSHA’s final ruling on silica dust set to be handed down in just a few short months, I expect that innovations in 2016 will focus on adhering to the new guidelines and ensuring the safety of workers at the wellsite. In my opinion, bringing treated silica sand to the wellsite is an extremely efficient way to protect our workers, especially during a time when all eyes are on oil and gas.

 

  • Esswein, E.J., Breitenstein M., Snawder, J., Kiefer, M., and Sieber K.,: Occupational Exposures to Respirable Crystalline Silica During Hydraulic Fracturing, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, 10:7, 347-356 (2013)

 

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Oil and Gas Companies Should Double Down on Employee Safety and Retention http://www.oilgasmonitor.com/oil-and-gas-companies-should-double-down-on-employee-safety-and-retention/ Mon, 06 Apr 2015 10:59:21 +0000 http://www.oilgasmonitor.com/?p=9183 Eric Boquist | Travelers Oil & Gas Oil and gas executives are grappling with the most challenging business environment in recent memory. With the plunge in oil prices and diminished cash flows, some exploration and production companies are limiting capital expenditures and reducing payroll, as they prepare for what could be a sustained downturn. While […]

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April 6, 2015
Eric Boquist | Travelers Oil & Gas
Oil and gas executives are grappling with the most challenging business environment in recent memory. With the plunge in oil prices and diminished cash flows, some exploration and production companies are limiting capital expenditures and reducing payroll, as they prepare for what could be a sustained downturn. While such course corrections are necessary to protect the bottom line, reducing a company’s commitment to safety and the well-being of its workforce should not become an unintended consequence. Prudent safety practices and talent retention efforts can go a long way toward easing the blow of challenging conditions.

Balancing Efficiency and Safety

The austere climate in the oil and gas industry will require companies to do more with less as they struggle to balance operational efficiency and worker safety. Even when expenditures are constrained, it is vital that executives keep in mind how hazardous the industry can be, and continue to prioritize employee safety.

The sharp increase in automation in oil and gas exploration and production also affects safety standards. Automated processes have helped reduce workers’ exposure to injury, but the inherent dangers of working in this business persist. Improvements in technology have created a new type of threat – complacency. Companies occasionally confuse a reduction in risk with immunity to risk and, as a result, may fail to monitor safety processes as closely as they should. Better technology cannot fully eliminate safety risks, whatever the economic conditions.

For these reasons, companies must remain diligent and should proactively pursue good safety practices. One low-intensity but high-yield option is to send more employees to safety education and training programs. As one of the leading insurers in the oil and gas industry, Travelers offers free programming in these areas. Tools like these can go a long way toward increasing awareness about safety and emphasizing its importance.

A Culture of Safety

Companies should aim to establish a ‘safety culture’ that promotes best-in-class safety practices during times of both feast and famine. Managers must demonstrate they are fully prepared to take ownership of communicating safety standards and guidelines to employees, and set a clear expectation that everyone be equally mindful of safety in the workplace. They should also take the time to assess potential risks that exist on the job, and create solutions to problems they identify.

Oil and gas companies can foster a healthy safety culture by planning ahead. Rather than just reacting when issues arise, companies should look at what risks exist and prepare for possible scenarios. This may be the best investment executives can make in the well-being of their staff. Preventive measures are essential tools for improving safety standards on a constricted budget. Any incidents that arise will almost certainly be far more costly than the actions that could have prevented a potential disaster.

Human Capital

Of course, spending time and money training employees and instilling a culture of safety makes no difference if a company can’t retain those employees. As the familiar adage goes, people are a company’s greatest asset. Retaining talent is therefore the key to achieving the highest value for your company. This industry, in particular, has struggled to find – and keep – skilled workers. Too often, valuable employees hop between competing companies, lured away by attractive wages. For this reason, it is important that management teams do not over-commit to physical assets at the expense of human assets.

There is no doubt that tough decisions will need to be made as costs may need to be cut. Yet companies should make every effort to develop and retain their best talent. Employee retention is one of the best ways to preserve and enhance productivity, efficiency, and safety – all at the same time.

When forced to make the tough calls – like deciding where to cut costs and figuring out how to make sound business decisions – it helps to have access to as much good advice as possible. Working with a skilled insurance agent and carrier that specializes in the oil and gas industry and understands how changing cycles affect business operations can greatly support a company’s efforts to maintain strong operations in the face of financial challenges. After all, the more informed a company is, the better decisions it will make.

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Pipeline Safety: First, Last and Always http://www.oilgasmonitor.com/pipeline-safety-first-last-always/ Fri, 31 Oct 2014 05:41:15 +0000 http://www.oilgasmonitor.com/?p=8055 Lorraine L. Walker

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October 31, 2014
Lorraine L. Walker | BDO
In an October 2013 article, CBC News reported that by 2011, safety-related pipeline incidents, ranging from fires to spills, increased from 45 total incidents in 2000 to 142 in 2011. Of equal importance to the number of incidents being reported is the headlines they are making. For example, in April 2014, a Canadian crude oil and natural gas company spilled 70,000 litres of oil and water near Slave Lake, Alberta. Two years earlier, another oil company dumped 461,000 litres of oil into the Red Deer River — which came on the heels of a spill of 4.5 million litres by the same company near Little Buffalo in 2011. And then there was the spill by a Canadian-owned pipeline that dumped more than 3 million litres of oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in 2010.

Yet, despite these seemingly alarming statistics and headlines, Canadian pipeline safety is second to none. According to Natural Resources Canada, between 2008 and 2012, 99.999% of the crude oil and petroleum produce transported on federally-regulated pipelines was done so safely.

No pipeline company wants a spill — of any volume. The results are far too costly, both to the company’s reputation and its bottom line. Yet, given the environmental and financial consequences, the publicity these spills receive, and the fact that pipeline companies face the very real risks associated with aging infrastructure, the Government of Canada has sought to make oil pipeline transport even safer through additional regulation.

On May 14, 2014, Canada’s Natural Resources Minister, Greg Rickford, announced new measures that would improve Canada’s pipeline safety, and ensure complete pipeline transparency as well as financial accountability for companies responsible for spills.

These new measures, as announced, outline:

  1. The concept of “Absolute Liability” for all National Energy Board (NEB) regulated pipelines. This means that pipeline companies will be liable for costs and damages, irrespective of fault up to $1 billion. Existing laws are already in place to ensure that companies found at fault have unlimited liability.
  2. Increased Aboriginal participation in pipeline safety operations. This includes planning, monitoring, incident response and related employment and business opportunities.
  3. Expansion of the NEB powers. These powers will give the NEB the authority to order reimbursement of cleanup costs, ability to provide guidance on the use of best technologies and authority to assume control of incident response if a company is unable or unwilling to do so.

These measures enhance an already robust system in Canada that prides itself on its commitment to constantly improve pipeline safety.

In addition to government regulations, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) provides guidance on emergency response plans for pipeline companies. CEPA represents Canada’s transmission pipeline companies, which operate approximately 115,000 kilometres of pipeline in Canada and 13,000 kilometres in the United States. CEPA’s members transport 97 per cent of Canada’s daily crude oil and natural gas. Its pipeline network carries 3 million barrels of oil every day. This is the equivalent of 4,200 rail cars or 15,000 tanker trucks.

In 2013, CEPA announced a Mutual Emergency Assistance Agreement (MEAA) between is member companies. Through this agreement:

  1. Companies can share everything from equipment to expertise, encouraging collaboration of specialized resources and knowledge.
  2. Existing practices between CEPA members become formalized.
  3. Companies will have to work within ICS (Incident Command System) protocols. This is a protocol used by emergency responders to ensure they are acting efficiently and effectively in an organized manner in the case of an emergency.
  4. Members will work together to continuously improve performance in the industry.

In addition to being the most efficient means of transporting crude oil and natural gas, Canadian pipeline companies want to be world leaders in environmental safety and response when it comes to potential incidents. The work and collaboration that has already been done in the industry is a testament to this fact.

Although the complete eradication of pipeline ruptures may be an impossible ambition, Canadian pipeline companies will continue to make strides to achieve it. In the meantime, these companies will keep their focus on reacting quickly, safely and responsibly, when a spill does occur. Pipeline safety is and will continue to be this industry’s first and last priority — always.

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Impact of Changing Energy Asset Landscape on HSE Technology & Information Strategy of Energy Companies – 2015 to 2020 http://www.oilgasmonitor.com/impact-changing-energy-asset-landscape-hse-technology-information-strategy-energy-companies-2015-2020/ Fri, 14 Mar 2014 17:16:59 +0000 http://www.oilgasmonitor.com/?p=6824 Subbi Lakshmanan | Wipro The oil and gas industry is undergoing a transformation right now—both in terms of technology and workforce. This throws up a new set of challenges for these companies and their stakeholders, especially when it comes to safety. Oil and gas companies must ask themselves today: what do all these changes mean […]

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March 14, 2014
Subbi Lakshmanan | Wipro
The oil and gas industry is undergoing a transformation right now—both in terms of technology and workforce. This throws up a new set of challenges for these companies and their stakeholders, especially when it comes to safety. Oil and gas companies must ask themselves today: what do all these changes mean for the safety of their processes and workforce?

Before we attempt to answer those questions, let’s take a quick look at the changes themselves:

1. Demographics of workers within oil and gas are changing, as younger workforce takes over.
2. Emerging energy technologies (EETs) bring in hundreds of newer competency sets, and also bring an expanded set of hazards and risks.
3. Data shows that more and more loss of containment incidents in oil & gas sector are related to aging assets.
4. Also, an increasing number of decommissioning commitments are emerging in this decade and next.

In such a scenario, it is imperative for companies in the energy sector to start putting in place, processes, people and technologies to assist in managing this transition from the old to the new. In terms of goals and objectives, these programs should deliver improved safety, and enhanced life of existing assets, lower competency risk through better assurance programs, and zero harm to workers.

Given this, there are four important steps that have the potential to enable oil & gas companies to address these emerging HSE scenarios in this decade and beyond.

ACTION 1: Build a comprehensive competency framework to address wider portfolio of energy assets, and worker competencies and skill.

  • Track competencies and skills of younger and new workforce, and manage the knowledge transition from outgoing talent to the next generation of workers
  • Define the newer skillsets and competencies required for emerging energy technology assets (EETs) such as shale oil, underground gas storage, coal bed methane, and offshore renewables.
  • Work with industry consortiums and associations to bridge and reduce the risk and cost of training & assurance of EETs.

ACTION 2: Bring the enterprise data from various applications into a common repository to leverage the power of insights from existing data for improving safety.

  • Setup data warehouses of HSE and operational data (water quality, well control, SCADA systems, surface and subsurface sensors, environmental sensors and meters, security & surveillance data)
  • Implement a comprehensive data integration framework , so that both big data, ERP data, and transactional information can be accessed using a common information model
  • This is a critical first step before predictive analytics, forecasting, trending, and common central reporting can be done.
  • This will also allow enterprises to write innovative applications on demand (Budgeting, forecasting, simulations, predictive analysis, integrated reporting, alerts and event management) using this common data repository.

ACTION 3: Invest in tools and capability to analyze HSE data and forecast emerging risks, and defuse them before they escalate into catastrophic events

  • Map the hazards and risks due to the upcoming energy assets (EETs).
  • Combat aging asset related incidents by setting up proactive risk management tools and processes.
  • Setup mechanisms to learn from past incidents and incorporating advanced tools to analyze trends and predict emerging HSE risks.
  • Ensuring action plans are implemented and HSE key KPIs are upgraded regularly and reflect industry best practices and benchmarks.
  • Setup predictive data models and tools to help risk managers prepare in advance for emerging or future risks

ACTION 4: Respond to aging plants and assets by preparing for decommissioning related processes, compliances and competencies

  • Setup management systems focused on key elements of operational risk specifically on aging assets, so that these installations are maintained fit for purpose and their life is extended beyond design
  • Plan for systems and processes for managing the many incoming decommissioning projects, in this decade and beyond.
  • These systems should address the wide array of complexities of decommissioning such as multiple vendors, project contracts, environmental SLAs, funding and payments, and regulatory compliances.

The next decade calls for this new foundation of health and safety technology and IT. This foundation would essentially help energy companies to manage this transition from the traditional to the emerging energy assets, with high levels of safety, and with minimum business disruptions.

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Drilling Down Six Top Safety Strategies for Oil and Gas Companies http://www.oilgasmonitor.com/drilling-six-top-safety-strategies-oil-gas-companies/ Wed, 05 Mar 2014 14:08:46 +0000 http://www.oilgasmonitor.com/?p=6779 Eric Dzuba | Dräeger Safety 138. That’s a new high, according to OSHA, of fatal injuries to oil and gas extraction workers in 2012, a 23 percent increase from 2011. More than 800 workers lost their lives on the job in the seven year stretch from 2003 to 2010. In a world where oil and […]

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March 5, 2014
Eric Dzuba | Dräeger Safety

138. That’s a new high, according to OSHA, of fatal injuries to oil and gas extraction workers in 2012, a 23 percent increase from 2011. More than 800 workers lost their lives on the job in the seven year stretch from 2003 to 2010. In a world where oil and gas companies produce millions of barrels per day, protecting these workers is a challenging task. Production can drop from millions of barrels a day to zero when a refinery shuts down due to an accident. Companies that develop and implement practices designed to promote a stronger safety culture, not only better serve their workers, but they also protect their bottom lines.

The following are six strategies oil and gas companies can consider to further protect their workers, as well as their financial assets.

I. Identify Quality Personnel to Help Eliminate Life-Threatening and Costly Events

It’s no secret that America’s energy boom has created an abundance of new jobs. The oil and gas industry saw a 40 percent jump in employment, roughly 162,000 jobs, from 2007-2012, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Despite this spike in employment opportunities, the number of qualified personnel hasn’t kept pace with the labor demand.

While job postings litter reputable online employment platforms, like LinkedIn, there is no assurance that they attract the experienced worker. Furthermore, numerous websites specialize in guaranteeing an industry job sans experience, as they mass email resumes to oil and gas companies. Workers with little to no training or specialized education are knocking on company doors at opportune moments.

Instead of posting help wanted ads or working with organizations that may not properly vet candidates, companies should consider advertising job openings at the placement offices found within universities and colleges, trade schools and other programs that offer industry specific trainings or specialize in oil and gas industry related courses, like the University of Texas. Identifying top talent who own their responsibilities and demonstrate a willingness to learn will not only enhance a company’s productivity, but will encourage a culture of safety that is fostered by professionals committed to an environment that is safe for them, others and the company’s bottom line.

II. Develop a Team Atmosphere Through Behavior-Based Incentive Programs

Due to the industry’s transient nature, it is essential for managers to proactively build a tight-knit camaraderie among work teams. Strong teams protect each other and help management achieve their safety objectives.

In order to help create a team bond, companies must establish an environment where each team member respects and values each other. This will result in a team that is more comfortable addressing teammates who make potentially harmful, life-threatening decisions, like not performing a daily bump test prior to work. It will also foster team problem-solving skills on the worksite. In a study published in the APA Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers reported group problem solving was more effective than even the best individual’s efforts. Findings also revealed that groups of three, four or five were able to generate and adopt correct responses, reject flawed solutions and effectively carryout the solutions more effectively.

One way to instill a team-based culture is through incentive programs. OSHA strongly recommends behavior-based incentives versus rate-based incentives that may encourage workers to underreport injuries, commonly known as “bloody pocket syndrome.” Oil and gas companies that foster a safe work environment should consider the following behavior worthy of reward to ensure worksite safety is a priority.

  • • High levels of individual participation in safety committees
  • • Identifying hazards or partaking in injury or near-miss investigations
  • • Recognizing teams who display a commitment to safety, e.g., teams that are transparent and responsive in potential life-threatening situations
  • • Hosting a party after the successful completion of a safety training

Aside from knowledge and training, the care factor drives safety. While team environments might not originally be a part of the company culture, the longer these relationships are left to cultivate and the more they are recognized for safe behavior, the stronger they become and so, too, does each team member’s willingness to go the extra mile for their crew’s well being.

III. Engage Solutions Providers Who Develop Equipment Compliant with Industry Standards

As the energy boom continues so will the risk of accidents. However, companies that align themselves with solutions providers whose priority is safety will minimize company risk. Create a dialogue with the manufacturer or distributor to determine if its product portfolio is in accordance with federal guidelines and will also meet real-world needs. Look for companies that take the time to understand industry needs and reflect their understanding in product innovation. The best manufacturers are constantly innovating to stay ahead of and stand out from their competitors.

In order to obtain the mark of approval from organizations like OSHA and NIOSH, developers must create extensive packages with performance tests, drawings, label copy, detailed user instructions, etc. Partnering with providers who have a proven track record of success and industry credibility mitigates threats to safety. Inquire about a contracted provider’s research and development process, and the tests that must be performed prior to a device’s release. For example, N95 particulate respirators, which filter out non-oil based particulates, must run efficiency tests using sodium chloride aerosol. Manufacturers must also indicate performance tests have been run on a mask’s breathing resistance and exhalation valve.

From submission to approval, the process typically takes three to four months, barring any changes that would alter the proposal from the original submission. Oil and gas companies can choose to engage with solution providers who have committed themselves to producing the most effective safety equipment to minimize false alarms, prevent production stoppage and, most importantly, protect the most valuable asset – people.

IV. Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks – Don’t Stop Educating

Educational materials should always be within reach to promote and encourage universal and ongoing education. From the initial on-boarding process to random and repeat trainings, this is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent injuries and workplace accidents. It should be noted that it is critical to present this information in a way that will best resonate with the audience. For men and women accustomed to working outside and with their hands, presenting the information in a classroom setting most likely will not convey the information as strongly as practical application and real-time drills.

Don’t let the adage of “Time is Money” hamper the company’s commitment to training. Companies must ask, “How much time does it cost when a site is shut down for at least a day on account of an accident?” According to a report released by the Hydrocarbon Publishing Company, the cost of missed production for a U.S. refinery with an average-sized FCCU (Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit) of 80K barrels per day will range from $340K a day at profit margins of $5 per barrel to $1.7MM a day at profit margins of $25 per barrel, based on a conservative estimate. Rapid shutdowns increase the possibility of costly mechanical repairs, further cutting into the company’s bottom line. Investing in safety trainings for workers decreases the risk of costly shutdowns and better protects workers who remain aware of such events.

V. Smart Technological Investment Saves Lives

Technological innovation has not only taken the world into new business dimensions, but it is allowing the industry to rethink how to drive safety in accordance with OHSA. Oil and gas companies who put the best technology, not the most expensive but the most capable, in the hands of their workers demonstrate their commitment to increased safety efforts.

According to a survey conducted by Oil and Gas IQ, oil and gas industry CIOs named mobile technology as their second top 10 priority, and 55 percent of respondents felt it would greatly enhance their operations.

The benefits that emerge from integrating mobile technology into company routines further strengthen safety practices. Increased data capture provides companies with more detailed information regarding onsite practices. Through this data, companies are able to retrieve location, site conditions, personnel in place, etc. all of which can be reviewed in order to determine risk mitigation strategies. In addition, this technology improves communication and collaboration efforts among team members who can quickly deliver information to supervisors or contact emergency responders.

VI. Know Your Equipment: Don’t Force a Square Peg into a Round Hole

Again, communication is a key factor in understanding equipment’s working abilities. Instruction manuals have validity. Manufacturers often update text to reflect new features that enhance worker safety or streamline workflow. Workers’ prior use of similar equipment does not necessarily mean they can properly execute tasks with new equipment models.

Increasing safety standards force manufacturers to keep their equipment in line with regulations. In this ever-changing environment, it’s crucial to be aware of the equipment’s capabilities. The same product with a different model number may have different measurement thresholds or may vary in its calculation of atmospheric gases. Companies must remain vigilant regarding industry updates, and stay apprised of solution providers’ equipment enhancements. This must be communicated to their workers and training compliance must be enforced. Companies cannot assume devices will perform comparably from generation to generation. It is vital to remain informed of an instrument’s functionalities in order to assure worker safety.

Ultimately, at the core of each of these strategies is communication. To protect frontline workers and profits there must be clear lines of communication from the top down and from the bottom up. Once a communicative environment is created, these six additional strategies provide employees with the most comprehensive protection possible.

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Call 911 | Oil and Gas Offshore Safety http://www.oilgasmonitor.com/call-911-oil-gas-offshore-safety/ Sat, 08 Feb 2014 01:50:28 +0000 http://www.oilgasmonitor.com/?p=6642 Gao Deng | Gaodeng Pipe Company It wasn’t very long ago when a drilling accident took place in the Gulf of Mexico. The unfortunate incident, which could have been prevented with the enforcement of some stringent safety rules, not only injured several workers, but also took 11 lives. Creating a healthy and safe work environment […]

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February 7, 2014
Gao Deng | Gaodeng Pipe Company
It wasn’t very long ago when a drilling accident took place in the Gulf of Mexico. The unfortunate incident, which could have been prevented with the enforcement of some stringent safety rules, not only injured several workers, but also took 11 lives. Creating a healthy and safe work environment in the oil and gas industry is crucial and in the wake of the above mentioned accident. Most companies have been taking a long hard look at their safety regulations and implementing necessary measures to ensure the safety of their employees.
 
It is always better to be prepared beforehand than wait for accidents to occur and then act. Being proactive in this matter is only going to help your cause. It is important to gain as much knowledge as possible about what working in the oil and gas industry entails, how to detect danger before it materializes, and precautions to take to minimize risks to all those around the site. The UK has already adopted a hands-on approach to this issue and has announced safety measures for the offshore oil and gas industry of its country. Even Canada is not far behind. Just last year they released new rules for their oil and gas industry.

It’s time for other countries to take a page out of the UK and Canadian governments’ books, and ensure that enough measures have been taken for ensuring safety of employees working in this sector. The oil industry had recommended new safeguards for offshore drilling right after the April 2010 incident. Since then many oil companies have set up a separate safety department within the organization that regularly conducts mock drills, and trains workers on how to identify and deal with all safety related aspects at their workplace.

In this post, we will share how the oil and gas industry has prepared itself since the April 2010 incident to ensure that such a catastrophic incident is not repeated.

Embracing Safe Technology
Using safe offshore technology can strengthen both – human and environmental protection plans. From helicopter landing pads to steel pipe lines, and devices that are used to regulate the flow of oil and gas, wearing safety gear and other technical aspects, technology used in this industry has come a long way. It has also become more prevalent offshore. Installation of devices like foam firefighting systems, electronic emergency shutdown systems, subsea pumping, water flooding, gaslift, new alloys and equipment for high temperature and high pressure wells, have made offshore operations much safer than they were earlier.

Technology has also been harnessed to provide safety to employees by means of GPS machines and air monitoring equipment.

Role of the Safety Department
The tasks of the safety department include, but are not limited to, carrying out inspections and examining the functionality of the fire extinguishers and other safety equipment within the premises of the organization. Besides that they also need to check if there are proper escape routes for the employees in the event of an accidental fire. Safety personnel also need to ensure that there are illuminated safety signs marked on the entrance door so that workers can easily spot it, even in the dark. This escape route should be free of blockages for people to pass through without stumbling.

Monitoring site activities and detecting signs of potential danger is also something that they have to be alert for. They need to make sure that hazardous materials and flammable substances are accurately labelled and properly stored. Safety and warning signs should be placed strategically, and in many locations. There should also be provision of first aid kits. It is also their responsibility to see to it that the organization strictly adheres to the oil and gas safety regulations that are issued by the government from time to time.

Safety Training and Drills
Many a time, we find workers cribbing about how it is easier said than done to pay adherence to the mandates of the safety department. They point out loopholes in the system, some of which are actually beneficial. Hence, in order to avoid tragedy from striking, oil and gas companies hold regular meetings and training sessions with company workers where they are educated about following the best safety practices, understanding safety signs, correctly using safety equipment, and following safety regulations. Simulated drills are also carried out from time to time to determine the practicality of the drill and areas of improvement on the site/premises, and in the escape plan. Amendments and modifications are made accordingly to ensure that all loopholes are sealed.

In Conclusion
Safety is becoming the core value of the oil and gas industry. Workers need to realize that it is only when they cooperate with the safety department that these safety initiatives will become a success. It is not just the company’s responsibility to ensure worker’s safety, but alertness and initiation is also required on the part of the offshore operators, contractors and the workers themselves.

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Safe and Sound http://www.oilgasmonitor.com/safe-sound/ Mon, 20 Jan 2014 09:19:59 +0000 http://www.oilgasmonitor.com/?p=6539 Charles Vannatta | Wilbanks Energy Logistics   Trends and emerging issues in safety protocols, industry standards and best practices   Few oil and gas professionals would dispute the fact that safety protocols and industry standards and best practices designed to promote responsible operation, safe job sites, and the health and wellbeing of employees should be […]

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January 20, 2014
Charles Vannatta | Wilbanks Energy Logistics
 
Trends and emerging issues in safety protocols, industry standards and best practices
 
Few oil and gas professionals would dispute the fact that safety protocols and industry standards and best practices designed to promote responsible operation, safe job sites, and the health and wellbeing of employees should be the top priority for any company. With governing bodies like OSHA and USDOT introducing more regulations, tightening procedures and safety standards, and engaging in more frequent compliance checks in recent years, there is more reason than ever to be vigilant and vigorous in implementing the policies that ensure safety and compliance.
 
Following these safety standards is not optional—it is the law. Non-compliance can have disastrous implications for a company, including fines, potentially serious accidents and down time that impacts the company’s people, reputation and bottom line. As a result, it is critically important than oil and gas decision makers are not only fully informed with regard to emerging issues, regulatory changes and industry trends, but also that they understand how to implement and enforce effective and efficient safety solutions to keep up with those changes.

What follows is a review of the emerging trends and hot-button issues in the regulatory sphere today, as well as best practices for responsible executives committed to creating, refining and maintaining the highest safety standards.

The exemption that proves the rule

One of the biggest issues impacting the oil and gas industry today is the fallout from the recent USDOT/Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) removal of the oil field driver exemption. With rig drivers now prohibited from exceeding the 70-hour-per-week maximum, certain functions—perhaps most notably the rig moving process—have become more expensive and more complicated. Moves and large, complex operations now take more time (in some cases, what was formerly a one-day rig move has become a two-day proposition), and companies are scrambling to find creative ways to operate in this new exemption-free environment. Some companies have hired extra drivers just to get the trucks to the location, allowing the specially trained on-site operators to focus on maneuvering the equipment. While questions remain about why the exemption was removed for some equipment and not for others, the reality is that the industry will have to come up with safe and sustainable strategies to remain compliant with the 70-hour maximum.

Hands-on enforcement and training basics

OSHA has taken a much more active approach in recent years in the oil and gas industry: visiting job sites and engaging in audits and spot checks, and being more stringent with enforcement. FMCSA is also more actively conducting audits and reviews. While there are many possible reasons for this up-tick in activity and aggressive enforcement, the oil and gas exploration and extraction field is an inherently dangerous industry, and maintaining consistent safety practices and responsible regulatory compliance is not just a formality, it is a necessity.

The dangers on a job site are many: you are dealing with heavy equipment in an environment where time is almost literally money. In a rig relocation operation, every piece of equipment has to have some kind of human interaction for proper loading. Falls are the most common cause of death and injury in the industry. As a result, OSHA has stringent standards designed to keep people safe when operating at heights, including safety harnesses, and personal equipment standards. Minimizing mistakes is about proper training and consistent adherence to safety protocols. Training and retraining employees in basic health and safety measures such as proper hand placement and appropriate hydration to avoid heat exhaustion is an essential step to avoiding many preventable accidents. It goes without saying that enforcing personal protection equipment to shield hands, eyes, head and feet when on the job site is an absolute must. Perhaps the biggest issue in today’s professional environment is overcoming ingrained resistance to change—an especially common phenomenon with more experienced employees who are set in their ways. There are, however, a number of sound strategies and best practices that companies can follow to help accomplish exactly that.

Safety protocols and compliance best practices

The following reminders and best practices can help ensure that safety standards are fully understood and adopted by everyone in the company:

  • Communicate clearly and often. Frequent communication—from meetings, to written documents, to one-on-one reviews—is essential. All employees will benefit from periodic safety reminders that review regulatory standards and operational basics.
  • Hold regular safety meetings before, during and after the job. This may seem excessive, but it truly instills understanding and adherence, and makes the whole process run more smoothly. Consistent on-site review sessions to evaluate daily job- and site-specific hazards are a good idea.
  • Don’t just go through the motions. Make sure the new program is not just a logo, tagline or a sign; you have to actively live it and repetitively reinforce it every day.
  • Implement safety stop authority. Everyone on a job site should be able to stop the job at any time, and every employee should be trained to respond to a stop call immediately. After such an incident, the whole team should meet to address the issue and generate a solution before resuming work.
  • Training consistency and repetition. Quality training means much more than just “set it and forget it”; it means instituting an ongoing training regimen to ensure consistency through repetition and reminders.
  • Implement fall protections. Issue personal fall arrest systems with a full-body harness capable of supporting 5,000 pounds with no more than six feet of free fall space, deploy safety net systems able to absorb the force of a drop test consisting of a 400 pound bag of sand, and train employees that they must remain tied off 100% of the time when operating above six feet.
  • Maintain a full-time safety and compliance team. If at all possible, maintain a full-time safety department staff and a dedicated compliance officer. Consider putting a safety supervisor on every job site, to optimize “hands-on” safety practices and maximize accountability.

For oil and gas decision-makers, from the executive level on down to compliance and regulation professionals and on-site supervisors, engaging in these safety and compliance basics is critical—especially in today’s atmosphere of more oversight and auditory review. For a relatively modest investment in training and education, you can protect your employees and your company from the worst outcomes, and dramatically increase the safety and compliance standards of your operation.

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North American Gas Pipelines and EDI – Where Do We Stand 20 Years Hence? http://www.oilgasmonitor.com/north-american-gas-pipelines-edi-stand-20-years-hence/ Fri, 04 Oct 2013 14:31:14 +0000 http://www.oilgasmonitor.com/?p=6042 Andrew Bateman
Trending: Gas Trading, Markets and Operations

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October 4, 2013
Andrew Bateman | SunGard’s Energy Business
The year 2013 could be considered a banner year for the natural gas industry in the U.S. in more ways than just the recent industry boom.  Twenty years ago in 1993, the Gas Industry Standards Board, or GISB, was created.  The GISB (the predecessor organization to NAESB, the North American Energy Standards Board) began a three-year journey towards developing its electronic delivery mechanism (EDM) standard in response to mandates by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
 
The stated goal of EDM was to provide a secure and reliable method of exchanging standardized operational data, including nominations, confirmations, scheduled volumes, and actuals, between shippers and regulated interstate pipelines utilizing electronic data interchange (EDI) transactions. The GISB developed the new standard in cooperation with several non-energy technology working groups who were also seeking to deploy EDI standards across their industries.

Soon after the new standard was released in 1996, many producers, utilities and trading companies began to try to adopt the new EDI standards, though few were successful.  The reality at the time was that most of those who began down the path of EDI soon discovered that the technology was relatively expensive and difficult to deploy, and few gas trading and marketing companies had the requisite skills in-house to implement such technologies. This lack of internal expertise forced those companies to seek outside specialist consultants, adding substantial costs to projects that were providing little in the way of perceptible value to the business users.

Increasing the difficulty of deployment were more than a few pipelines that were less than fully cooperative in establishing the necessary connections to the vendor-supported ETRM systems being used by most shippers.  Having invested huge sums in developing proprietary nominations and scheduling systems in response to FERC Order 636, many of the large interstate pipelines viewed the new technology requirements as a complication that undermined much of the investment they had made in making their internally developed systems as user-friendly as possible, but still capable of supporting their internal business processes and ensuring the safety and integrity of their assets.

Partially in response to shippers’ complaints regarding the costs and difficulty of adopting and implementing the EDI/EDM transfer mechanism, GISB later adopted a file transfer protocol (FF/EDM) that allowed for the transfer of nomination data via flat files which could easily be generated by MS Excel.  With this method, shippers can simply utilize a pre-formatted spreadsheet and either hand key their data directly into the spreadsheet or upload the data into it from their ETRM system.  Once fully populated, the spreadsheet can then be uploaded to the pipeline’s electronic bulletin board; and once received by the pipeline, the scheduled quantities will appear to the shipper on the EBB within seconds.

Given the costs and complexity of implementing EDI, it not surprising that most shippers have adopted the FF/EDM method.  According to several pipelines we’ve talked to, adoption of EDI/EDM is clearly lagging behind that of FF/EDM, with perhaps less than 20% of the shippers utilizing EDI to submit nominations; and with even fewer utilizing that technology to receive scheduled and actualized volumes.  The widest adoption of EDI would appear to be in the utility markets, where companies are essentially locked via infrastructure to a limited number of pipelines and to which, once the EDI infrastructure is established, changes are rarely made.  Gas producers, particularly those with active trading and marketing groups, are much more likely to be utilizing the FF/EDM method, as it does provide for quicker implementation of nomination communication should that shipper wish to move gas on pipelines with which they had previously not done business, or one with which they rarely do business.

While EDI has become and continues to be a standard “B-to-B” communication tool across many industries such as automotive manufacturing, it has not found that same attraction in the North American pipeline markets.  In fact, its adoption has essentially stalled as FF/EDM has become the norm for electronic data exchange between shippers and pipelines, and it seems this trend will continue.

Written By Insider ANDREW BATEMAN


Andrew BatemanAndrew Bateman is president of SunGard’s energy business, which helps energy companies, corporate hedgers, hedge funds and financial services firms to compete efficiently in global energy and commodities markets.
 
Mr. Bateman has spent more than 15 years at SunGard, helping the company expand globally with new solutions and new markets. Previous roles include executive vice president of global accounts, chief operating officer of international distribution, and managing director of AvantGard EMEA.
 
Before joining SunGard, Mr. Bateman worked at KPMG Information Solutions/GIS and Rolls-Royce. He holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Nottingham.
 
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Offshore Fracking Injuries http://www.oilgasmonitor.com/offshore-fracking-injuries/ Fri, 13 Sep 2013 08:51:27 +0000 http://www.oilgasmonitor.com/?p=5919 Jeffrey Raizner | Doyle Raizner LLP Although offshore hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, may be receiving less exposure and scrutiny than its land counterpart – the California Coastal Commission was not even aware that fracking occurred in the Santa Barbara Channel until recently – offshore fracking is just as dangerous, and maybe even more so.   […]

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September 13, 2013
Jeffrey Raizner | Doyle Raizner LLP
Although offshore hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, may be receiving less exposure and scrutiny than its land counterpart – the California Coastal Commission was not even aware that fracking occurred in the Santa Barbara Channel until recently – offshore fracking is just as dangerous, and maybe even more so.
 
Offshore work is some of the most dangerous in the world, and offshore fracking, which exposes workers to steadily increasing on-the-job injuries, explosions, oil and chemical spills, and contact with toxic chemicals, is posing unique risks not only for workers, but for people in nearby communities as well.

Personal Injuries

According to the Institute for Southern Studies, approximately 435,000 workers are employed by the U.S. oil and gas extraction industry, with half working for well services companies that conduct hydraulic fracking. Fracking workers are more than seven times more likely to die on the job than other types of workers. The Institute also notes oil and gas field workers work an average 20 hour shift

Due to the inherently dangerous nature of fracking, these workers often face crippling injuries to their neck, back, knee, and shoulders, and are sometimes left paralyzed or die as a result of explosions, seismic activity or sinkholes that open with little or no warning. Some of the safety hazards that fracking workers regularly encounter include fatigue from working long shifts, being struck by moving equipment and high-pressure lines, and working in extreme temperatures and confined spaces. Doyle Raizner currently has a case (Perio v. Titan Maritime, LLC and T&T Marine Salvage, Inc.) where the worker’s leg was caught in a cable resulting in him being thrown 30 feet in the air and dropped on the beach. Accidents in the oil and gas industry can be catastrophic and fatal. Fracking makes an already dangerous job more dangerous due to the increased risk of seismic activity and explosions, as well as the long hours that often result in worker fatigue.

Maritime work has long been known as a source of danger. Added to this risk of injury is harm that results from not being compensated when something does occur. Maintenance and cure is the legal remedy available to maritime workers in place of typical workers’ compensation schemes. Admiralty law protects an injured seaman. When a maritime employer does not honor its maintenance and cure obligations, an injured worker may not receive proper medical care and may be harmed financially.

Chemical and Oil Spills

Fracking fluids, which can comprise hundreds of chemicals, are exempted from the nation’s clean water laws, allowing companies to flush chemicals into the ocean, and oil industry experts estimate that at least half of the chemical-laced water remains in the environment after a fracking operation. Surprisingly, the exact chemical makeup of the chemicals used in fracking is not public knowledge, since disclosure of these fluids is protected as proprietary trade secrets. Federal regulators are currently allowing companies to release fracking fluid into the sea without requiring them to file a separate statement or environmental impact report analyzing the possible effects, an exemption that was affirmed earlier this year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to an August 3, 2013 report in the Huffington Post.

Oil spills often coincide with an explosion on a platform or rig, as was the case in 2010 when a BP well one mile beneath the sea blew out about 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana. The blowout caused an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which later sank and resulted in the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. According to FuelFix.com, the U.S. government estimated that as a result of the explosion – which killed 11 workers – 4.9 million barrels of oil, or 206 million gallons, was discharged by the well, staining beaches, killing birds and marine life, and harming the Gulf Coast tourism industry.

Some Gulf of Mexico coastal residents exhibit the lingering health effects that can result from oil spills, including but not limited to:

  • Headaches
  • Memory problems
  • Upper and lower respiratory symptoms
  • Asthma
  • Persistent coughs
  • Bronchitis
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms

DNA damage that could result in birth defects or cancer is also a concern.

Toxic Exposure

During the fracking process, silica sand is mixed with water and other chemicals and pumped into shale formations at high pressure to break up the rock and stimulate well production. Both onshore and offshore fracking can use hundreds of thousands of pounds of silica/sand, which creates airborne dust at the fracking site, and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has found that fracking sites were exposed to dust containing high levels of respirable crystalline silica.

Hydraulic fracking sand contains up to 99 percent silica. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), crystalline silica particles present in the body become trapped, causing lung inflammation and reducing the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen. Even exposure to small quantities of crystalline silica over time can lead to cancer, bronchitis, or silicosis. In a Hazard Alert issued in June 2012 by OSHA and NIOSH, seven areas of exposure to silica for fracking workers were identified:

  • Dust ejected from thief hatches (access ports) on top of the sand movers during refilling operations while the machines are running (hot loading)
  • Dust ejected and pulsed through open side fill ports on the sand movers during refilling operation
  • Dust generated by on-site vehicle traffic
  • Dust released from the transfer belt under the sand movers
  • Dust created as sand drops into, or is agitated in, the blender hopper and on transfer belts
  • Dust released from operations of transfer belts between the sand mover and the blender
  • Dust released from the top of the end of the sand transfer belt (dragon’s tail) on sand movers

Because the fracking process is essentially the same for both onshore and offshore operations, all fracking workers face the same types of exposure. OSHA recommends some short-term practices and procedural changes that can help reduce workers’ exposure to silica, including mandating the capping of unused fill ports, reducing the drop height between the sand transfer belt and T-belts and blender hoppers, and limiting the number of workers and their time spent in dusty areas.

Remedies

Remedies available to those who sustain offshore fracking injuries are similar to those available to other offshore workers:

  • The Jones Act protects seamen who are injured while working on a vessel or movable rig in navigation.
  • The Longshoremen and Harbor Workers Compensation Act will protect an employee who suffers an injury while working on a fixed offshore fracking platform.

According to Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, workers, including those engaged in offshore fracking, have a right to a safe workplace, and employers are required to provide their employees with working conditions that are free of known dangers, and those injured are increasingly seeking the advice of an offshore fracking injuries attorney.

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