workers are shown on an active oil rig

Drilling Fluids' Health Risks Explained

A new online guide from the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers' Health Committee can help to limit workers' exposures to the fluids, which can produce a variety of health effects, including contact dermatitis.

A 60-page "Drilling Fluids and Health Risk Management: A Guide for Drilling Personnel, Managers and Health Professionals in the Oil and Gas Industry" guide posted last month by two European organizations, the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (OGP) and the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IPIECA), will help energy industry safety/industrial hygiene personnel understand the health effects of drilling fluids and how to protect workers exposed to them. OGP's Health Committee produced the guide.

It discusses best practices and the use of a risk-based process for managing health risks. Water-based fluids and hydrocarbon-based non-aqueous drilling fluids are widely used, as are additives in the fluids; the guide's pages include hyperlinks to 11 appendices that list fluid characteristics, common additives, potential health effects, monitoring methods, and health surveillance for fluid exposure.

Skin irritation and contact dermatitis are the most common health effects observed from fluid exposure, with headache, nausea, eye irritation, and coughing seen less frequently, according to the guide, which says inhalation and skin contact are the primary exposure routes. The guide goes through the risks found in each part of a drilling operation and the potential exposures of jobs done for it, with a chart displaying exposure types and influencing factors for each location. If there is no legislation in place governing recordkeeping, OGP/IPIECA Report No. 393 suggests maintaining health records for a minimum of 40 years after the individual leaves employment, according to the guide.

Essential protective steps include minimizing the number of chemicals used in fluids being employed, laundering protective clothing properly and designating one washer for clothing saturated with drilling fluids, regular hand washing with the correct type of soap, job rotation, and PPE, including goggles, respirators, and chemical-resistant gloves and clothing.

"The document is designed to be of use to operator and drilling personnel and their managers; health, safety and environment staff; drilling fluid specialists; rig-site medical staff; and occupational health and hygiene professionals," said IPIECA Technical Director Rob Cox, who provides secretariat support to the Health Committee,

OGP includes most of the world's oil and gas companies, industry associations, and major upstream service companies. OGP members produce more than half of the world's oil and about one-third of its gas.

Product Showcase

  • The MGC Simple Plus

    The MGC Simple Plus is a simple-to-use, portable multi gas detector that runs continuously for three years without being recharged or routinely calibrated after its initial charge and calibration during manufacturing. The detector reliably tests a worksite’s atmosphere for hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, oxygen and combustible gases (LEL). Its durability enables the detector to withstand the harshest treatment and environments, hence earning it an IP 68 rating. The MGC Simple Plus is also compatible with a variety of accessories, such as the GCT External Pump. Visit gascliptech.com for more information. Read More

  • Safety Knives

    The Safety Knife Company has developed a quality range of safety knives for all industries. Designed so that fingers cannot get to the blades, these knives will safely cut through cardboard, tape, strapping, shrink or plastic wrap or a variety of other packing materials. Because these knives have no exposed blades and only cut cardboard deep, they will not only protect employees against lacerations but they will also save product. The Metal Detectable versions have revolutionary metal detectable polypropylene knife bodies specifically for the food and pharmaceutical industries. This material can be detected and rejected by typical detection machines and is X-ray visible. Read More

  • Kestrel 5400 Heat Stress Tracker WBGT Monitoring for Workplace Safety

    Ensure safety with the Kestrel® 5400 Heat Stress Tracker, the go-to choice for safety professionals and endorsed by the Heat Safety & Performance Coalition. This robust, waterless WBGT meter is ideal for both indoor and outdoor environments, offering advanced monitoring and data logging essential for OSHA compliance. It features pre-programmed ACGIH guidelines and alert settings to quickly signal critical conditions. Integrated with the cloud-based Ambient Weather Network, the 5400 allows managers to view, track, and log job site conditions remotely, ensuring constant awareness of potential hazards. Its capability for real-time mobile alerts and remote data access promotes proactive safety management and workplace protection, solidifying its role as a crucial tool in industrial hygiene. Read More

Featured

Webinars