The world runs on oil and natural gas. Transporting these vital resources from underground to the end consumer is a big business - and also a dangerous one.
The transportation of petroleum involves pipelines, trucks, tanker ships, and rail cars. Even though pipelines are the safest transport option available, the sheer scope of the pipeline network - over 2.6 million miles
of pipeline in the US alone - means that there are bound to be incidents, and incidents risk injuries to midstream workers.
Pipelines are the safest way to transport oil
Across the oil and gas midstream sector
, you will find workers interconnecting piping, pigging the line
to keep it running smoothly, and eventually pumping the oil. Keeping midstream workers safe during these three processes means ensuring that they’re using the right personal protective equipment (PPE) for their jobs.
Pigging - The Art of Keeping Pipelines Clear
Although the origins of the term are debated,
of a pipeline is a vital midstream process. Essentially, a large bullet-shaped device, called a pig, keeps the pipeline clear of debris and buildup. It ensures that oil and gas are able to run through smoothly.
Here are some of the chemicals midstream workers encounter:
- Toluene exposure primarily affects the brain and nervous system, but it can also cause damage to the liver, kidneys, and lungs as well as degrading the immune system.
- Exposure to benzene affects bone marrow and can cause anemia by decreasing the production of red blood cells.
- Short-term ethylbenzene exposure can cause respiratory and neurological issues; some studies indicate long-term exposure may also affect the blood, liver, and kidneys.
- Xylene exposure affects the central nervous system and may cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.
- Hydrogen sulfide is a highly flammable gas that can cause severe burns and produce other toxic vapors like sulfur dioxide.
, and PVC/nitrile gloves
will prevent these toxic substances from coming into contact with skin, while sealed goggles
can help shield eyes from dust, debris, and splashes. Be sure to check out our chemical permeation glove guide for specific breakthrough times. Click the next image to learn more.
Chemical Breakthrough times
Pigging also means a high risk of mechanical injury
. One slip when loading or unloading the pig can crush fingers and hands. Impact-resistant gloves
can greatly reduce the risk of this type of injury.
To address both the chemical and impact hazards mentioned above, our new N2658HVO
impact and liquid protection glove is one glove you should definitely consider.
Piping - Building the Energy Backbone
Pipelines aren’t just built willy-nilly. It takes planning, precision, and hard work to assemble, install, and maintain oil and natural gas pipelines. Texas knows this better than any other state as they completed two new pipelines in in 2017
and another three are set for completion this year.
Planned Texas Pipelines
Pipelayers, pipefitters, plumbers, and steamfitters use a wide variety of heavy equipment and hand tools to measure, cut, thread, hammer, bend, secure, inspect, and test pipes to meet precise specifications. Each step in the process carries its own risks that can be mitigated with the proper PPE.
- Abrasive handling - moving and handling materials takes place everywhere around pipelines
- Cutting - pipelines requires the cutting of pipe sections
- Heat stress - long days in the hot sun can drain even the hardiest worker
- Sharp Objects - cuts and lacerations comprise 7% of all oil and gas injury claims
- Welding - maintaining pipes requires welding pipes together
We've created a Plumbing resource page just for plumbers and pipefitters. Click the below image to learn more.
Plumbing dedicated industry page
Pumping - Moving the Nation’s Lifeblood from Point A to Point B
Once the pipeline is constructed and clear, it’s time to pump some oil and gas. This is the meat-and-potatoes of the midstream industry. In 2017, the US produced 14.33 million barrels of oil, which requires a significant workforce. There are roughly 20,000 petroleum pump system operators in the oil and gas industry.
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) visual map for where you can find most of these workers
The pumpers, gaugers, and operators who are responsible for the continual monitoring of pressure, opening and closing valves, and controlling flow, are in harm’s way if something goes wrong. Unfortunately, it is often not a matter of if something will go wrong, but rather when it will go wrong. The only thing you can do is be prepared.
An example of preparation comes from one of Midstream’s largest companies, Kinder Morgan. Below is a link to their PDF outlining Hazards and PPE recommendations
for those working in Midstream.
Kinder Morgan Hazard Analysis found on PDF
Some of the hazards Kinder Morgan
highlights, where midstream workers require protective gloves, glasses and garments, include:
Other Occupations in Midstream Requiring PPE
Repair and maintenance workers
- face hazards on a daily basis, along with the additional risk of exposure to industrial lubricants, cleaning solvents, and the ever-present possibility of mechanical injury while repairing or replacing heavy components. A midstream safety manager at the 2018 OSHA Oil & Gas Safety and Health Conference
told us, “The midstream industry relies heavily on large machinery. Mechanics are always needed to repair broken down machines.”
The challenge, he further explained, was that mechanics prefer using their hands, with little to no hand restrictions as they work in confined spaces. Well, the next glove shown provides bump protection, boasts a lightweight nylon shell, and its coating is oil-resistant. It provides protection without compromising flexibility or dexterity.
PD2950 - “Predator”® tire-tread TPR on back-of-hand, black, 13-gauge nylon, foam nitrile palm and fingers
Material moving workers
- play an important role in piping. There is no building a pipeline without getting the right materials to the right place. There are around 3,400 material moving workers found in the midstream sector. Because they work around giant machines used to maneuver huge pipes, often in tight spaces, visibility
is a key consideration for material movers
FRMCL2ML – Flame-Resistant (FR) Safety Vest, Class 2
Lastly, we encourage you to visit the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration for more safety information
An Industry Leader in Protecting the Midstream Industry
Piping, pigging, and pumping workers face dangers every day. MCR Safety
offers a complete line of PPE and is dedicated to protecting all midstream oil and gas workers. From eye protection to steel-toed PVC boots - and everything in between - our business is helping you stay protected and safe.
Do you have questions about MCR Safety’s oil industry PPE? Contact us
! We’re happy to answer your questions, listen to your suggestions, and help you find the perfect PPE gear for your needs. For insight into all oil and gas sectors, be sure to check out our Oil and Gas Industry pages. Just click the image to learn more.
For over 40 years, MCR Safety has proven to be a world-leader in gloves, glasses, and garments. Whether it’s on a shop floor, an oil rig, or a construction site, we are there providing solutions to workplace hazards. We Protect People!
Learn more about MCR Safety by checking out our most recent video. For more information, browse our website, request a catalog, find a distributor, or give us a call at 800-955-6887.