Noise and vibration can both independently pose significant health risks (e.g. from drill floors, shakers, sack rooms, generators, compressors and mixers). Some regulators require area measurements to be used for comparison between installations. Design guides on noise levels have been area based, as part of asset integrity maintenance (machines get noisier as they age, proactive maintenance can contribute significantly to lowering area noise).
Various forms of radiation and thermal extremes are also relatively common on offshore platforms. Exposure to extreme heat and direct sunlight in tropical areas and to extreme cold in high latitudes can become significant sources of health risk dependent on the geographical region of the world.
Published exposure data from systematic sampling of hazardous agents on upstream operations are limited or published some years ago. Since benzene is a natural component of crude oil and natural gas, a few studies have reported data on benzene exposure. Substances, such as hydrogen sulphide (H2S), are usually well controlled through sealed systems, permit to work systems, gas purging, area and personal monitoring, training, emergency plans, etc
Other potential toxic and suspected carcinogenic agents or mixtures exist, such as mineral oil mist and vapor, asbestos fibers, formaldehyde, tetrachloroethylene, welding/cutting fumes, acids, coatings, etc.
Food-poisoning outbreaks are typical manifestations of biological hazards in the offshore workplace. They tend to occur more commonly in less developed areas, often related to poor hygiene associated with water dispensers, ice makers and ice cream machines.
Also galley space can be limited, so cold storage can be deficient. Airborne diseases can spread rapidly through ventilation systems on offshore installations because accommodation is pressurized and living space is usually at a premium.
Robust health risk management is required to control health risk from potential Legionella contamination of water pipes, particularly in showers of accommodation blocks and air-conditioning plants.
Psychological hazards are different from other occupational hazards (e.g. noise and chemicals) because
a) The level of stress within an organization varies both rapidly and significantly over time;
b) Stress occurs in hot spots in an organization and is rarely uniform;
c) Comprehensive stress and control assessments actually impact on stress.
d) There is some evidence that stress in an organization or population is normal and often transient and
Examples include work overload, lack of job clarity and frequent change.
Noise-induced hearing loss is permanent hearing loss caused by long-term exposure to hazardous noise. The severity of the hearing loss is affected by the intensity of the noise and the duration of exposure.
Sources of hazardous noise are common on oil and gas sites and include the following:
• Mud pumps and tanks
• Shale shaker/centrifuge
• Offloading, main oil, and cement pumps
• Derrick, dog house, and pipe decks
• Diesel/gas turbine power generators
• Air system and air tugger