Working in the oil and gas industry can be a challenge owing to the harsh environment and work conditions. There is also the equipment used that can be hazardous with the capability of causing serious injuries or even death. Other than that, do you know that you are also exposed to many toxins in the oil and gas workplace? Yes, there many toxins that can adversely affect your health in the short-term and long term. Well, we will tell you more about what you ought to know about toxin exposure in the oil and gas industry workplace.
Common Toxins in the Oil and Gas Industry
The oil and gas industry has many types of toxins you should be aware of to protect yourself. Let’s look at some of them:
One of the components in the oil and gas reservoir is mercury, which during drilling accumulate inside the processing equipment. On shut down or repair of the equipment, you can get exposed to the vapor due to depressurization of the system. The mercury vapor can affect your central nervous system causing behavioral and neurological disorders like Insomnia, loss of memory and tremor. Moreover, it can affect your hearing, vision, digestive system, kidneys, and lungs. For pregnant women, these effects can be passed to your fetus affecting your newborn.
Sudden exposure to high concentrations of petroleum gases (‘sweet gases’) like, benzene, propane, and methane, for instance, can cause death or coma as a result of acute toxicity which affects the kidneys, lungs and the nervous system. You can also experience nose and throat irritation while exposure to benzene can cause damage to the chromosomes and cancers such as leukemia.
You can also get exposed to hydrogen sulfide when drilling and producing oil and gas. The gas is known to have a sour smell more like that of rotten eggs. That said, olfactory desensitization occurs with exposure to high concentration or continuous exposure to low concentration. In other words, the scent is not an excellent way to identify hydrogen sulfide. With exposure, you can experience headaches, respiratory and skin irritation, heart and brain damage, coma, and death.
Fumes from diesel
Most of the types of equipment in the oil and gas industry are powered by diesel engines. Combustion of diesel fuel produces exhaust which is essentially a mixture of gases. If you are exposed to these fumes for long, you can experience respiratory irritation, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Moreover, chronic exposure causes lung function deterioration.
What to do in case of toxin exposure in the workplace
These are just but a few common toxins in the oil and gas industry workplace. You ought to be aware that some of the toxins we have covered can get into your body through skin contact, injection, inhalation, or ingestion, etc. Their effects can range from mild allergic reactions and irritation to severe impacts like cancer, congenital disabilities or even worse, death!
In this regard, you should seek medical attention immediately when you start developing strange symptoms if you are working in the oil and gas industry. You should also file a lawsuit if you suspect that exposure to toxins on a worksite led to health issues or even death to your loved one. Certainly, you should be compensated for pain and loss you incur for toxin exposure at your workplace where measures should have been put into place to protect you.
How to protect yourself from the oil and gas industry toxins
Prevention has always been better than cure. So, if you are working in the oil and gas industry, then don’t underestimate the effect that the toxins you are exposed to every day can have. Take the following preventive measures to protect your health:
- Always wear personal protective equipment (PPE’s) and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA’s) to protect yourself from toxin inhalation and contact.
- Wear personal monitors when at high-risk areas of the toxins as they can detect when levels of these toxins are high.
- Learn about the symptoms of toxins exposure and response if you develop symptoms to prevent severe health effects.
The oil and gas industry can expose you to several toxins; therefore, it is crucial to be vigilant and protect your health. Keep an eye on safety measures and seek medical attention immediately if you have strange symptoms. Moreover, don’t hesitate to seek legal help if exposure to these toxins has caused damage to you or your loved one.