In 2014, 142 workers in the oil and gas industry were killed on the job,
and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration believes the number
will only continue to climb as the industry grows. As a result, the oil
and gas extraction occupation is among the deadliest in the United States.
To combat the hazardous conditions workers face, OSHA created a campaign
called Step-Up for Safety.
Throughout February and March, OSHA will be holding events such as site
inspections and safety trainings on work sites around the country.
Their website includes information on oil and gas safety, educational materials, and
alerts about the dangers of certain extraction activities. Two activities
in particular—hydraulic fracking and manual tank gauging—have
dedicated safety guides on the site.
The Dangers of Manual Tank Gauging
From 2010 to 2014, 9 workers were killed while checking oil and gas tanks
manually. More than 2 deaths a year on average makes manual tank gauging
an incredibly dangerous part of an oilfield worker’s job. Manual
checking is outdated—the technology to monitor tanks without exposure
to volatile chemicals already exists. OSHA hopes to push the industry
to update its practices.
When workers gauge tanks manually, they open a hatch in order to take samples
or measurements. This leaves them vulnerable to dangerous fumes, or even
explosions when parts malfunction. OSHA urges companies to change their
practices regarding manual gauging by retrofitting their tanks with sampling
ports. They also suggest equipping workers with flame-resistant clothing
and the necessary equipment to check tank levels without opening any hatches.
Arnold & Itkin supports any efforts to make the oil and gas industry,
which provides countless jobs to hard-working Americans across the nation,
more safe for workers. We hope OSHA continues to provide education and
resources to oil companies in order to reduce (and hopefully eliminate)
the high fatality rate that is seemingly endemic to the industry.