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Selected Category: Oil and Gas

UPDATE: Reports of Worker Fatalities during Manual Tank Gauging and Sampling in the Oil and Gas Extraction Industry

Categories: Oil and Gas



Photo 1. Plume of hydrocarbon gas and vapor escaping from a flowback tank hatch

On May 19th, 2014, NIOSH posted a Science blog titled “Reports of Worker Fatalities during Flowback Operations”. This blog post provided information that NIOSH received from several sources indicating that acute exposures to hydrocarbon gas and vapors likely played a role in the deaths of at least four workers in the oil and gas extraction industry. The four workers were employed in the Williston Basin of North Dakota and Montana. Specific activities the workers had in common at the time of death included manual tank gauging of production tanks or transferring production fluids at the well site.

Preliminary Field Studies on Worker Exposures to Volatile Chemicals during Oil and Gas Extraction Flowback and Production Testing Operations

Categories: Oil and Gas


Figure 1: Separators, flowback tanks, and water tanks on a well pad with multiple well heads

This blog describes NIOSH evaluations of worker exposures to specific chemicals during oil and gas extraction flowback and production testing activities. These activities occur after well stimulation and are necessary to bring the well into production. Included are descriptions of initial exposure assessments, findings, and recommendations to reduce worker exposures to potential hazards. Further details about these assessments can be read in a recently published peer-reviewed journal article, “Evaluation of Some Potential Chemical Exposure Risks during Flowback Operations in Unconventional Oil and Gas Extraction: Preliminary Results”.[i]


Preventing Skin Cancer

Categories: Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing, Cancer, Construction, Oil and Gas, Outdoor Work, Young Workers

sunAs the nation’s doctor, I recently launched a Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer to address the rising rates of skin cancer in the U.S. While nearly 5 million people are treated for skin cancer each year in the U.S., with an annual cost of $8.1 billion, most cases are preventable. Although people with lighter skin are at higher risk, anyone can get skin cancer—and it can be disfiguring, even deadly. Sunburned and even tanned skin is damaged skin that can lead to skin cancer. That’s why this message is extremely important for individuals whose jobs require them to work outdoors.

Reports of Worker Fatalities during Flowback Operations

Categories: Oil and Gas

Figure 1. Flowback Tanks

Although worker safety hazards in the oil and gas extraction industry are well known, there is very little published data regarding occupational health hazards (e.g., types and magnitude of risks for chemical exposures) during oil and gas extraction operations. To address the lack of information, NIOSH requests assistance from oil and gas stakeholders in further characterizing risks for chemical exposures during flowback operations and, as needed, develop and implement exposure controls. This blog briefly describes flowback operations and addresses reports made known to NIOSH of recent worker fatalities related to or located at flowback operations.

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