Oil spill response workers may be exposed to many different chemical, physical,
biological, and psychological hazards. These hazards vary depending on the type
and location of the oil spill, type and stage of response, degree of
coordination between entities involved in response and recovery, and the
workers' specific tasks. Therefore, occupational and environmental hazards need
to be identified, assessed, and monitored in each oil spill response.
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 or uneven
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. Psychological
hazards may include witnessing traumatic injuries or death, inability to help
affected wildlife, and fatigue. Fatigue may result from working in a fast-paced
environment, working extended shifts, and doing heavy labor or demanding
cognitive tasks such as problem-solving and decision-making.
Training and Protecting Responders
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 (such as 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
AplusA-online.de - Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)