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Health and Safety Risks for Workers Involved in Manual Tank Gauging and Sampling at Oil and Gas Extraction Sites


The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have identified health and safety risks to workers who manually gauge or sample fluids on production and flowback tanks from exposure to hydrocarbon gases and vapors, exposure to oxygen-deficient atmospheres, and the potential for fires and explosions.

Introduction 
Workers at oil and gas extraction sites could be exposed to hydrocarbon gases and vapors, oxygen-deficient atmospheres, and fires and explosions when they open tank hatches to manually gauge or collect fluid samples on production, flowback, or other tanks (e.g., drip pots) that contain process fluids.

Opening tank hatches, often referred to as “thief hatches,” can result in the release of high concentrations of hydrocarbon gases and vapors. These exposures can have immediate health effects, including loss of consciousness and death.

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