Natural Gas Pipeline Safety and Compliance Products
Residential and commercial customers across the U.S. depend on natural gas pipelines to power their homes and businesses. In 2018, the U.S. Energy Administration reported that the main gas pipeline networks delivered almost 28 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas to roughly 75 million customers.
As the demand for natural gas continues to rise, the construction of natural gas pipelines also increases. Here’s an overview of natural gas pipeline construction safety and how employers can create a safer working environment.
The Industry At a Glance
The gas pipeline industry is one of the most dangerous construction industries. Employees deal with highly hazardous chemicals, and just one mistake can result in an explosion that impacts not only the employees but also the health of civilians and the environment.
One nine-year study found that damage caused by gas pipeline accidents totaled $4 billion, and over 30,000 people were forced to evacuate.
Therefore, the industry is heavily regulated by government organizations. The transportation of natural gas in the U.S. is regulated by the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the construction of pipelines is regulated by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also has a number of regulations to protect the environment.
Gas Pipeline Worker Safety
Studies estimate that the last two decades have seen significantly fewer accidents caused by natural gas pipelines, though the statistics are still grim. In a study examining the last two decades, some 364 people lost their lives, and over 3,000 people suffered injuries from gas pipeline accidents.
In fact, pipeline construction workers perish on the job 3.6 times more often than the average American worker.
While explosions are the most notable cause of death, there are plenty of other dangers on the job. Slip and fall accidents are common and deadly as worksites are filled with heavy and dangerous equipment. Pipeline leaks are another threat as they immediately expose employees to a host of toxic chemicals.
Environmental Hazards of Construction
In addition to the threats pipeline construction poses for employees, it is also a danger to the environment. The World Health Organization reports that about 4.2 million deaths occur each year due to exposure to outdoor air pollution.
Therefore, the U.S. government emphasizes the environmental and health hazards of natural gas pipeline construction.A seven-year study of 18 natural gas facilities in New York state showed that they released a combined total of 37 million pounds of air pollutants and 39 chemicals known to be human carcinogens. A similar study in Texas showed that air pollution near a natural gas facility in Texas exceeded human health standards.
The greenhouse gases recorded in these studies included mainly methane, ethane, benzene, and carbon monoxide, all of which harm human health and the environment.
In addition, the construction of a gas pipeline itself requires space. There are currently an estimated three million miles of gas pipelines, and many of these construction projects require deforestation. As trees consume carbon dioxide, deforestation not only reduces air quality, but it also destroys wildlife habitats.
Use The Right Safety Equipment
One of the easiest ways that pipeline companies can reduce accidents and improve worksite conditions is to invest in quality safety equipment. Here are key elements managers should have in their equipment collection.
OSHA released statistics in 2018 that fall accidents caused 338 of the 1,008 total deaths in construction. Sadly, many of these accidents could have been easily prevented by using mats.
Invest in non-conductive mats and have a textured surface for maximum grip, such as our AlturnaMAT, TrakMat, and Mud-Traks mats. You can also treat your employees to a kneeling pad that provides maximum comfort, such as the Kneel RX.
When constructing a gas pipeline, workers will likely be exposed to toxic chemicals. Therefore, each worker must be equipped with appropriate respiratory protection. The type of protection they require varies depending on the job they are performing, though OSHA offers guidelines on respiratory protection safety.
Personal Protective Equipment
One of the easiest ways to protect gas pipeline employees is to invest in reliable personal protective equipment.
All employees should wear hard hats at all times, as research shows that hard hats significantly reduce the risk of injury from slip and fall accidents and falling objects. These hard hats should also be equipped with shields to protect the worker’s eyes and reduce exposure to dangerous chemicals.
When dealing with heavy machinery, workers should always use steel-toed boots and gloves. Purchase products that are made of durable material that is resistant to corrosive chemicals. Gloves and boots should be fitted to each worker individually as proper fit is essential to safety.
Hearing protection is also critical on the worksite. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 31 percent of construction workers exposed to damaging noise reported that they do not use hearing protection. Invest in quality earplugs that can block up to 33 decibels.
Warning Whips and Signals
Warning whips are useful for alerting large vehicle operators of smaller vehicles and other hazards. Some whips, such as the Checkers Warning Whips, come with fluorescent coloring and flashing lights to withstand even the most adverse working conditions.
Signal lights, such as barricade lights, beacons, and vehicle ID lights, are also useful for alerting all workers, and even pedestrians, of potential construction dangers.
Cables and hoses lying on the ground can easily result in a severe trip and fall accident. Additionally, a compromised electrical cable that has deteriorated or ruptured could be fatal around gas line construction.
To prevent these disasters, cover your cords and hoses with bridges that can withstand your utility vehicles' weight. Whether you're looking for a bridge that can protect hoses up to 6.5-inches in diameter or a cord protector that can withstand one million pounds, Checkers safety has the bridge you need to keep your worksite safe.
The employees are the backbone of every pipeline company, and they carry the brunt of the physical risk during construction. Regardless of OSHA standards and regulations, it's our job to keep these workers safe on the clock, and we're proud to provide life-saving equipment for your employees.Related Reading