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CDC report highlights dangers of hydrocarbon storage tanks

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Atlanta – Safety and health professionals “need to recognize and act on nonfatal warning signs and symptoms” to protect oil and gas workers in hydrocarbon storage tanks, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nine workers died from January 2010 to March 2015 after they were exposed to hydrocarbon gases and vapors and to oxygen-deficient atmospheres, the report states. Those fatalities prompted OSHA, NIOSH and other stakeholders in the oil and gas industry to issue a 2015 hazard alert about working in storage tanks.

The new CDC report identifies dizziness, confusion, immobility and collapse as signs of exposure. Citing OSHA requirements, researchers offer several tips to help reduce or eliminate hazards in storage tanks:

  • Alternative fluid sample collection points
  • Remote monitoring of fluid levels
  • Correct use of gas monitors
  • Respiratory protection meeting OSHA requirements
  • Proper training for workers
  • Not allowing lone workers where risks exist for hydrocarbon gases and vapors and oxygen-deficient atmospheres
  • Automated external defibrillators at the worksite

The report was published in the Jan. 15 edition of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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