Federal agencies Personal protective equipment Mining, oil and gas

Alert addresses hot work hazards for oilfield workers

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Image: STEPS Network

Washington – A new hazard alert aims to prevent fatalities associated with hot work on oilfield tanks, tankers and related equipment.

Hot work includes burning, welding, and other activities that involve fire- or spark-producing tools. From 2005 to 2015, 28 workers were killed because of fires or explosions related to hot work in oil and gas operations, according to the National Service, Transmission, Exploration & Production Safety (STEPS) Network, an association of nearly two dozen regional exploration and production safety networks.

The alert was produced as part of a STEPS alliance with OSHA and NIOSH. It highlights the need for employers to conduct exposure and hazard assessments at the worksite; establish safe work practices and procedures; and train workers on additional hazard control measures such as air monitoring procedures, emergency procedures, and recognizing and eliminating ignition sources.

Workers are instructed to use required personal protective equipment and air monitoring devices. They also should know the contents and hazards of any tank on which they work and heed all alarms. Hazards must be reported immediately, and workers must evacuate any work area that is unsafe.

“An empty tank does not mean a safe tank – check every tank every time,” the alert states.

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