ACME Environmental Monthly Safety Training
Heat Stress Recognition & Prevention, H2S Safety, and Awareness of Lead, Asbestos, and Benzene.
May 24, 2022
ACME Environmental holds monthly safety training to keep our responders up-to-date with the latest industry safety practices. For the month of May, ACME’s Spill Technicians participated in safety training courses regarding heat stress recognition and prevention, hydrogen-sulfide safety and awareness, proper awareness of lead and asbestos, and benzene handling on-site. While this information has been taught in training courses before now, it’s important to review these practices regularly. Repetition helps solidify actions and monthly training is a great way to maintain safety and preparedness for everyone.
Heat Stress – Recognition and Prevention
According to the EPA, over 1,300 heat-related deaths occur yearly in the U.S. Despite being preventable, many of the symptoms and signs go unnoticed until it is too late. The best strategy to stay safe is to prepare for heat exposure. The human body can take days, even weeks, to fully acclimate to a new environment and when response sites change frequently it can be hard to ever be fully acclimated in the field. Because of this, the best way to prepare is to know how your body reacts to heat and make sure you are prepared accordingly.
Hydration is the key to making sure you are cooling your body and avoiding heat related illness, as well as educating yourself on external factors that may increase chances of exposure. Hyperthermia occurs when the body’s heat-regulating mechanisms don’t work effectively and leads to abnormally high body temperature caused by the failure of these mechanisms. Below are some of the things you can do to prevent hyperthermia:
- Don’t wait to drink fluids until you are already thirsty. Make sure you replace your salts, minerals, and other electrolytes.
- Make sure to pace yourself in intense heat situations. Supervisors should schedule breaks accordingly to keep everyone hydrated and safe.
- Learn about the side effects of your medications. Talk to your doctor if you are on medication that can cause dehydration.
Watch yourself and your coworkers for signs of dizziness, confusion, profuse sweating (or lack of sweating when dehydrated), headache, nausea, and loss of consciousness. Call 911 and never leave someone suffering from a heat related illness unattended.
Hydrogen-Sulfide (H2S) Refresher – Identification and Safety
Hydrogen Sulfide (commonly known as H2S, ‘sewer gas,’ ‘swamp gas,’ and ‘sour damp’) is used in industries such as oil & gas refining, mining, pulp and paper processing, and rayon manufacturing. It occurs naturally from decaying organic matter and is commonly found in sewers, well water, volcanoes, and oil wells. H2S is known for its “rotten egg” smell and its severe health hazards. ACME employees revisited training on how to properly identify, monitor, and prevent exposure to this chemical.
H2S has an array of acute symptoms that begin immediately when exposed to H2S and can create long-term health issues from prolonged exposure. Hydrogen Sulfide is so potent that, per OSHA, it has an 8-hour permissible working exposure limit (PEL) of 10ppm. This chemical, while easily recognized by the “rotten egg” smell can easily go under the radar if not monitored properly and will actually cause a loss of smell, leading many to think it is no longer in the immediate area and so they prolong their exposure until it is too late. H2S causes the nervous system to shut down and when found in levels of 500ppm or higher, can cause severe damage to the eyes and respiratory functions, unconsciousness within five minutes, and death within one hour or less. More information on exposure limits can be found on the chart below.
Before and during all processes in possible exposure areas, atmospheres need to be properly evaluated . This is to prevent exposure to H2S and other harmful gasses. ACME Environmental uses 4-Gas monitors to track levels of oxygen, carbon monoxide, various combustible gasses, and H2S. Monitoring your environment and wearing proper PPE are some of the best measures to take to prevent exposure.
Lead & Asbestos Awareness and Benzene Handling
While ACME does not handle or perform removal of asbestos and lead, our Spill Technicians are likely to be in situations where benzene is present. This is because of our work in emergency oil spill response and routine maintenance at refineries. Benzene is similar to H2S in that it is colorless. But unlike H2S, it’s usually identified by a sweet odor and is highly flammable. Because benzene is ranked within the top 20 chemicals used for production in the United States, it is a common hazard of our industry. Some industries use benzene to create other chemicals that go into the production of plastics, resin, and nylon, and other synthetic fibers. Benzene is also used in some types of lubricant, rubber, dyes, detergents, and pesticides. Over time, benzene causes the cells of an organism to behave abnormally and can eventually lead to cancer, specifically leukemia.
ACME’s 4-Gas monitors are constantly searching the atmosphere for combustibles, including benzene. All technicians are respirator fit-tested yearly for NIOSH approved respirators to prevent exposure in any way possible.
Why Do We Train and Review So Often?
One of the greatest dangers to health and safety is being complacent after routine exposure to these hazardous situations. By taking the time to perform monthly safety training and review these hazards, our spill response team always has these at the forefront of their mind. Whether it be CPR/First Aid, Hydrogen Sulfide monitoring, heat stress, marine safety, lock-out-tag-out, or any other safety courses, making safety the number one focus in any situation is how we keep ourselves and each other safe.
Training Provided By:
Richard Coats, Trainer at DT Safety Training, LLC
Tulsa Technology Center – Business & Industry Services