NIOSH Posts Oil Spill Response Resources

                               Washington, DC (CompNewsNetwork) - Oil spill response workers may be exposed to many different chemical, physical, and biological hazards depending on the type and location of the oil spill, the type and stage of response, and the workers' specific tasks. Therefore, a hazard assessment should be conducted to indentify hazards specific to an individual spill.

Chemical exposures may include benzene and other volatile organic compounds, oil mist, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and diesel fumes. Physical hazards may include ergonomic hazards, excessive noise levels, sun exposure and heat stress. Injuries may occur due to slips, trips, and falls on slippery walking and working surfaces. Other safety hazards are associated with the use of tools, equipment, machinery, and vehicles. Biological hazards include possible exposure to biting or venomous insects or other animals.

Employers should train oil spill response workers about their potential hazards and safe work practices to prevent and control these hazards. All workers should be provided with the appropriate tools, equipment, personal protective equipment (PPE) and protective clothing needed to perform their job tasks. Workers should be trained in the appropriate care and use of this equipment. PPE should be selected based on identification of the hazards, protective qualities (e.g. oil resistance) and suitability for the tasks performed. An occupational health and injury surveillance system should be put in place as soon as possible. The prompt reporting of injuries and illnesses should be emphasized.

Federal, state, and local governments are mobilizing efforts to assist in the containment and cleanup of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.   

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