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OSHA and NIOSH Issue Hazard Alert on Dangers of Tank Gauging

Release Date: February 22, 2016

A new hazard alert issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) identifies health and safety risks to oil and gas industry workers who manually gauge or sample fluids on production and flowback tanks. Publication of NIOSH/OSHA Hazard Alert: Health and Safety Risks for Workers Involved in Manual Tank Gauging and Sampling at Oil and Gas Extraction Sites was triggered by a series of preventable deaths related to manual gauging of tanks and is a supplement to the OSHA Alliance Tank Hazard Alert that was released in 2015.

Recent research from both OSHA and NIOSH has shown that workers at oil and gas extraction sites may be exposed to very high concentrations of hydrocarbon gases and vapors when manually gauging or sampling production tanks. Workers also face the risk of fires or explosions from high concentrations of hydrocarbon gas and vapors. These activities can also result in oxygen-deficient environments, which can cause loss of consciousness and death. OSHA and NIOSH identified nine fatalities to workers manually gauging or sampling production tanks during 2010-2014.

NIOSH/OSHA Hazard Alert: Health and Safety Risks for Workers Involved in Manual Tank Gauging and Sampling at Oil and Gas Extraction Sites provides specific recommendations for employers to protect workers from hazards associated with opening tank hatches to manually gauge or sample hydrocarbon levels. The recommendations fall into three main categories: engineering controls, work practices, and personal protective equipment.

Recommendations include:

Further details on the recommendations are contained in the Hazard Alert.

"It has been known for years that oil and gas extraction is extremely dangerous work, with high rates of workplace fatalities. We also know that every incident is preventable," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "It's critically important that we all work together to make sure that oil and gas extraction workers are aware of life-threatening exposure to hydrocarbon gases and vapors and low oxygen atmospheres, and that they are protected."

NIOSH/OSHA Hazard Alert: Health and Safety Risks for Workers Involved in Manual Tank Gauging and Sampling at Oil and Gas Extraction Sites can be accessed at https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3843.pdf. The OSHA Alliance Tank Hazard Alert, which was released in 2015 by the National Service, Transportation, Exploration & Production Safety Network, can be accessed at http://www.nationalstepsnetwork.org/docs_tank_gauging/TankHazardInfographicFinal04_22_15.pdf.

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The information contained in this publication was obtained from sources believed to be reliable. ISO Services, Inc., its companies and employees make no guarantee of results and assume no liability in connection with either the information herein contained or the safety suggestions herein made. Moreover, it cannot be assumed that every acceptable safety procedure is contained herein or that abnormal or unusual circumstances may not warrant or require further or additional procedure.


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