Oil spill responder health and safety

In-situ burn guidance from Dr. Kuhlman

Whether an oil spill occurs on land, snow, or in wetlands, in-situ burning (ISB) may be employed as an effective response countermeasure. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, ISB “involves the controlled burning of oil that has spilled from a vessel or facility, at the location of a spill.” Knowing the potential hazards and risks of ISB is crucial for any health professionals supporting such operations.

Recently CTEH was contacted by American Petroleum Institute (API) to develop an ISB guidance document for safety officers and safety and health professionals. By explaining the best safety practices, especially for those who work within the Incident Command System, this document will promote worker and public safety in the field.

During the recent Clean Gulf Conference & Exhibition in Tampa, CTEH’s Dr. Chris Kuhlman had the opportunity to share the ISB safety guidance with spill responders and regulatory agencies. He described how it can be used to assist safety and health professionals in anticipating, recognizing, evaluating and controlling (AREC) hazards of ISB, especially when they are not formally educated or certified as industrial hygienists. He highlighted the principal hazards professionals need to be aware of when working in an ISB environment (i.e., flammability, explosive vapors, toxicity, and inhalation of particulate matter). In addition, Dr. Kuhlman explained some additional benefits of the ISB safety guidance document—a template Health and Safety Plan, example Job Safety Analysis forms, public FAQs regarding ISB, and helpful information for both responders and community outreach.

Want to find out more about ISB safety? Check out CTEH partner and principal consultant Cory Davis’ presentation to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife—“Principles of Air Monitoring for In-Situ Burn Operations.” Then, share your questions for Cory and Dr. Kuhlman on CTEH’s FacebookTwitter or LinkedIn.