Our oil and gas industry workers need protection from lung fibrosis caused by recurrent inhalation of sand particles. Based on a 2012 study conducted by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the hydraulic fracturing workers are susceptible to an incurable but preventable disease called Silicosis. In fact, the workers in Colorado and other states are already exposed to dust silica levels that exceed the proposed exposure limits.
As part of the oil and gas industry, it is our duty to respond to this alarming case of health problem. Many companies have already changed their methods of handling frack sand, but others simply do not have the means to do so. Fortunately, a new innovation has a technological fix to protect workers and to boost business efficiency at the same time. This new tech will not only improve operations but also increase the workers’ protection.
New businesses are using a dust filtration system and gravity-fed system, SandBox, which reduce community complaints and cuts down on noise. Compared to traditional pneumatic systems, they complete unloading faster and need fewer people to operate. In the end, it allows businesses to cut down on their operation costs while protecting their men. With the health benefits on workers that these systems deliver, it is not far that they will become industry standards.
How do they work?
At the sand mine, containers are loaded and stacked using specially-designed SandBox rail cars until they are ready for transport, allowing fully mobile trans-loading and accessible storage. Then, the sand or proppant can be staged until ready for use or delivered directly to the wellsite using a lightweight chassis and fewer tractors. Lastly, the SandBox containers are loaded onto a single SandBox cradle to directly deliver the sand to the blender hopper. The entire process reduces the amount of dust released into the air.
The Threat is Real!
The US Government was already aware of the dangers of inhaling silica and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration set the standards for limiting exposure. Besides Silicosis, silica can cause other respiratory diseases, such as lung cancer and tuberculosis. With this knowledge, we need to work harder to protect the oil and gas industry workers by employing stricter standards.