Job risks for oil and gas workers both on land and offshore come in many different shapes and sizes. Transportation is a big risk, as is chemical exposure. Equipment malfunctions and falls also lead to many people getting hurt. Additionally, fires and explosions remain a noteworthy issue for those handling combustible materials.
Obviously, leaks or equipment malfunctions can lead to fires and explosions. Fewer people understand that certain storage systems used for chemicals can also lead to workplace risks.
Especially if your employer uses tanks to store number 6 fuel oil or asphalt, your risk of experiencing an explosion on the job may be higher than the risk for people working at places without those materials present or stored in large quantities.
Why is there concern about fuel oil and asphalt?
Using tanks to store chemicals is efficient, but it can lead to workplace risks. For example, storing asphalt or No. 6 fuel oil in heated tanks can be dangerous and lead to explosions or fire. The risk comes in part from chemical changes to the stored materials. When exposed to intense heat or flame, an explosion or fire could occur.
Although long believed to remain stable in heated storage, these stored chemicals are no longer as simple as they once were. Companies add many different additives, which could contribute to their risk for explosion or fire.
There have been at least 17 explosions involving the heated storage tanks used for asphalt or No. 6 fuel oil in the last decade just in the United States. These incidents can and do injure or kill workers. In some cases, the fires spread and cause the evacuation of nearby neighborhoods.
Workers pay the price when employers make assumptions
Fires and explosions can cause thousands of dollars in personal losses. Workers can get hurt in many different ways when there is a fire or explosion at their place of employment. They could fall from a great height or get thrown by the power of the explosion. They could suffer hearing loss because of the sound or severe burns. Such injuries may require significant medical care and could also lead to a permanent reduction in what that worker can earn.