NORA Oil and Gas Extraction Sector Council Health and Safety Summit: Past Events

Previous NORA Oil and Gas Extraction Council Health and Safety Summit details can be found on yearly tabs below, and by visiting the Center for Health, Work & Environment at the Colorado School of Public Health website.

Events by Year

Spring Health and Safety Summit 2023: Psychosocial Stressors in the Oilfield
Presentation Abstracts
NIOSH Perspectives and Research on Substance Use in the Oil and Gas Extraction (OGE) Industry

Jamie Osborne, MPH, CHES, Public Health Analyst with the Office of the Director at NIOSH, and Alejandra Ramirez-Cardenas, MPH, Epidemiologist in the NIOSH Oil and Gas Extraction Program

Abstract: Substance use challenges are becoming more prevalent and complex in the post COVID-19 pandemic work environment. Now more than ever, employers must understand substance use as it relates to the workplace and have meaningful tools to help employees support and protect workers with or in recovery from substance use disorders. In the first portion of this session, participants will learn about the connections between work, the workplace, and substance use, increase their awareness of available treatments and resources, and gain a better understanding of how to foster a supportive psychosocial environment that considers issues like stigma and privacy. In the second half of the session, participants will learn about characteristics of oil and gas extraction (OGE) work that are risk factors for substance use as well as recent findings from an analysis of the Fatalities in Oil and Gas Database (FOG) to understand how substance use is affecting OGE workers.

Redefining Workplace Impairment: A Treatment Provider's Perspective

Ryan West, Director of Corporate Training and Business Development, ARCpoint Labs

Abstract: In March 2020, the entire U.S. population, along with the rest of the world, unknowingly entered the largest research study on the effects of chronic stress, isolation, and uncertainty as the nation battled a viral pandemic. The U.S. workforce saw massive furloughs, layoffs, and more employees began working remotely than ever before. These abrupt changes to our lifestyles and the way we conducted business resulted in a significant increase in employee substance use and mental illness across the U.S. and abroad, impairing their ability to be safe and productive while working. While the relationship between chronic stress, mental illness, and substance misuse is well-established in scientific literature, employers have traditionally understood the definition of “impairment” to be the result of intoxicants, fatigue, and/or an underlying medical condition that compromises motor control and cognition. In May 2020, the National Safety Council challenged this definition through a survey of 350 professionals, each with decision-making authority. Over 90 percent of the respondents agreed on some level that the definition of “impairment” should be broadened to include mental illness and chronic stress, or any factor that compromises a worker’s ability to “function normally or safely”. This presentation discusses the connection between chronic stress, mental illness, and substance misuse, teaches participants common signs of each, and details how to leverage employer, community-based, and online resources for impairment prevention, treatment, and recovery.

Case Study: Approaches to Assessing Worker Mental Health Indicators Using Existing Population Data

Aaron Sussell, Epidemiologist in the NIOSH Mining Program

Abstract: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently established the Miner Health Program as a focused effort to improve the health and well-being of miners.  Its ongoing health surveillance project provides an evidence-based framework for the program. Findings for the health of workers in mining and other sectors are reported.

Two recent analyses illustrate how existing data sources can be used to identify intervention opportunities. CDC’s National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) suicide data were analyzed to estimate adult suicide rates by industry and occupation group among 32 states for 2016. The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) population health survey data (years 2015-2019) were analyzed to assess self-reported prevalence of depression (ever), frequent mental distress (FMD), and extreme distress (EMD) among 498,351 active workers, including 969 miners and 2,718 oil and gas extraction workers in 37 states.

Analyses of 2016 NVDRS data showed the highest suicide rate was among males in Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction, at 54 deaths per 100,000 workers, which was double the rate among all current male workers for that year, 27 per 100,000 workers.  Results from the BRFSS analysis showed estimated prevalences of depression (ever), frequent mental distress (FMD), and extreme mental distress (EMD) among all miners to be 6.7%, 10.2%, and 6.3%, and among all oil and gas extraction workers were 10.0%, 10.0%, and 5.7%, respectively. Among current workers these self-reported indicators varied significantly by industry and occupation, age, race/ethnicity, educational attainment, and marital status.

These two analyses exemplify how a multi-faceted surveillance approach is required to help identify areas requiring additional attention and intervention.  In these cases, results indicate more attention to worker mental health and wellness in extractive industries is needed.

Mental Health and Suicide Prevention in the Oil and Gas Extraction Industry

John Dahunsi, psychiatric health professional, OSHA

Abstract: Mental health disorders are commonly misunderstood and stigmatized, often with substantial effects in the workplace. Approximately 15% of working adults have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, most commonly depression, anxiety, and stress-related disorders. Individuals diagnosed with mental health disorders in the workforce may be at greater risk for suicide than the general population due to shift work, extended hours, organization structure, and fatigue. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death for people of all ages in the United States, and suicide rates among mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction workers are the highest among all workforces in the United States. The oil and gas extraction industry has notable occupational and psychosocial hazards that can contribute to mental health diagnoses and related concerns among its workers. Strategies that oil and gas industry leaders can use to reduce the prevalence of mental health disorders and suicide will be discussed. Implementing foundational measures to improve the mental health of workers and reduce the risk of suicide is a critical first step. Stress reduction interventions, leadership support, and employee assistance program resources are some interventions that can be implemented in this industry to reduce mental health concerns.

Mobile Work and Mental Health: Workers in the Alberta Oil Sands

Sara Dorow, Professor at the University of Alberta

Abstract: Mobile rotational work, including fly-in fly-out (FIFO) and drive-in drive-out (DIDO), is an integral part of resource industry operations around the world, including oil & gas. The mental health impacts of this type of work, including long commutes, camp living, distance, and time away from family, and intensive and demanding work, have not been well studied in North America. In this talk, I share the key findings of a recent mixed-methods study of mental health among trades workers in the oil sands industry of northern Alberta, with particular attention to contract work, work culture, and gender, and offer several recommendations.

Mental Health Needs and Challenges from the OGE Workers’ Perspectives

Francisco Valenzuela, Jason Ross, and Jenna London, OGE industry mental health advocates

Abstract: This presentation will examine the experiences of three Fly-In Fly-Out (FIFO) workers and their struggles with mental health issues. The three workers will share their stories and discuss how their work and home lives were affected by their FIFO lifestyle. It will also explore the unique challenges that FIFO workers face and how these challenges can impact mental health. The presentation will provide insight into the ways in which FIFO workers can manage their mental health and the types of support needed to ensure their wellbeing.

Additionally, the presentation will discuss the importance of education and awareness of the FIFO lifestyle and its effects on mental health

Overview of Occupational Fatigue and OGE Fatigue Research at NIOSH

Imelda Wong, Coordinator of the NIOSH Center for Work and Fatigue Research, and Alejandra Ramirez-Cardenas, Epidemiologist in the NIOSH Oil and Gas Extraction Program

Abstract: Long working hours and fatigue are significant safety and health hazards that put workers at an increased risk for occupational injury and illness. Effects of work-related fatigue can extend beyond the workplace. Additionally, fatigued workers can pose a public health safety concern when they take to the road, putting themselves and their community at risk. In the first part of this session, we will an overview of the definition, sources, and effects of fatigue. We will also provide a broad discussion of benefits and challenges of effective fatigue mitigation strategies. The second half of this session will focus on the Oil and Gas Extraction industry. Workers in the U.S. OGE industry work long hours and have an elevated fatality rate. While fatigue has been shown to be a significant health and safety risk in other industries, minimal research on worker fatigue has been conducted in this workforce. Here participants will learn about potential factors that put OGE workers at an increased fatigue risk, about current NIOSH research project to understand fatigue in this industry, and about opportunities for collaboration.

On the Move – Considerations for In-vehicle Fatigue and Distraction Detection Technology

Sally Ferguson, Professor at CQ University Australia

Abstract: The use of fatigue and distraction detection technology in vehicles is growing almost as fast as the number of products on the market. This presentation will cover the key considerations for implementation and use of such technology, including driver, organizational, and community factors. Synthesizing research from Australia and internationally, the pros and cons of fatigue and distraction detection technology will be discussed, in addition to a focus on how such technology can or should be integrated into an organization’s fatigue risk management system.

Can Fatigue Detection Technology Improve Safety?

Madeline Sprajcer, Researcher at CQ University Australia

Abstract: Fatigue is a significant risk factor for workplace incidents, injuries, and fatalities. Commercially available fatigue detection technologies are promoted as a way to mitigate fatigue-related risk. However, many organizations struggle to understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of available technology options. Furthermore, organizations who purchase fatigue detection technology often have a limited understanding of how these devices may be best used to improve safety. To assist organizations in determining which technology to select, and how to effectively implement this technology, a review was undertaken of reliability and validation data for commercially available fatigue detection technologies. Additionally, a series of interviews were conducted with drivers and leaders from organizations currently using fatigue detection technology.

Analysis of Naturalistic Driving Data to Assess Distraction and Drowsiness in Drivers of Commercial Motor Vehicles

Susan A. Soccolich and Rebecca Hammond, Senior Research Associates at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI)

Abstract: The objective of this study was to reduce and analyze data from previously collected heavy-vehicle naturalistic data to better understand crashes involving heavy-vehicle drivers and the efficiency of Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) operations. Two key elements of this study were to investigate driver distraction and the role it plays in CMV operations and to answer critical questions related to hours of service (HOS) regulations and fatigue.

More than 3.8 million miles of naturalistic data were collected from seven fleets and 10 locations under the original Onboard Monitoring System Field Operational Test (OBMS FOT) study. A total of 43 motorcoaches, 73 motorcoach drivers, 182 trucks and 172 truck drivers participated in this study. Key findings from the study showed an overall decrease in cell phone used compared to previous research. Hands-free cell phone use was found to be protective as it likely helps drivers alleviate boredom, while hand-held cell phone use was found to be risky as it takes the driver’s attention away from driving tasks. Additionally, the 8th driving hour showed the highest rate of safety critical event occurrence. This study provides needed insight into motorcoach and truck operations.

Fatigue Management Addressed in the US DOT PHMSA (read pipeline) Control Room Management Regulations

Jeff Citrone, Kahuna Ventures LLC

Abstract: The PIPES Act of 2016 was signed into law by President Obama on June 22, 2016. The PIPES Act, which is more formally known as the Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016 prescribe safety requirements for controllers, control rooms, and SCADA systems used to remotely monitor and control gas and hazardous liquid pipeline operations (49 CFR Parts 192 and 195, respectively). As part of these safety requirements operators must prepare plans covering human factors to reduce the risk associated with employee controller fatigue that could inhibit a controller’s ability to carry out the roles and responsibilities the operator has defined for them. The fatigue mitigation addressed in the regulations include establishing shift lengths and schedule rotations; establishing a maximum limit on controller hour-of-service; and training controllers and supervisors to recognize the effects of fatigue and how to mitigate these effects. This presentation will outline these requirements and provide typical operator solutions and plans.

Mindfulness Practices in the Context of Offshore Health and Safety

Peggy Lindner, Assistant Professor at the University of Houston

Abstract: Mindfulness is defined as increased attention and awareness of one’s current circumstances and surroundings. Given the recognized importance of maintaining attention and awareness in promoting workplace safety and reducing accidents, researchers have recognized mindfulness as a promising mechanism to accomplish these broad safety training goals, with calls to augment our understanding of why, when, and how mindfulness and workplace safety are linked. The University of Houston, in tandem with Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. and Baker Hughes, conducted research on mindfulness practice in offshore oil and gas personnel. The final phase of the study consisted of a 28-day data collection, measuring various well-being indicators and an individual’s reported mindfulness practice. In our presentation we will provide practical details and information about the study implementation. In addition, we will discuss study results and their implications on future directions of offshore health and safety interventions that involve mindfulness practices.

Overview of Fit for Duty: A Program Development Guideline

Robert Waterhouse, Program Manager at Energy Safety Canada

Abstract: Robert Waterhouse, a Program Manager at Energy Safety Canada, will provide an overview of industries work on Fit for Duty and the development of a program development guideline and associated lifesaving rule. This guideline provides direction for developing an effective fit for duty program that ensures workers have the capacity to safely conduct work. The session will provide an:

  • Overview of Fit for Duty: A Program Development Guideline and the definition of Fit for Duty as “a condition in which an employee’s physical, physiological and psychological state enables them to continuously perform assigned tasks safely.”
  • Understanding of worker and work environment conditions and factors that may create risk in relation to Fit for Duty.
  • Opportunity to ask questions and discuss the guideline.
Spring Health and Safety Summit: Noise and Heat Stress
Presentation Abstracts
Epidemiology and Surveillance of Occupational Hearing Loss in the United States

Elizabeth Masterson, Co-coordinator of the NORA Hearing Loss Prevention Cross-Sector Program, and Research Epidemiologist, NIOSH: “Epidemiology and Surveillance of Occupational Hearing Loss in the United States”

Abstract: Hearing loss is one of the most common work-related illnesses in the United States. Approximately 12% of the U.S. working population has hearing difficulty, but the prevalence varies widely depending on occupational noise exposure, a known cause of hearing loss. About 41 million current U.S. workers have a history of occupational noise exposure, with 22 million exposed each year. Ototoxic chemicals can also cause hearing loss or make the ear more susceptible to the damaging effects of hazardous noise. These chemicals include solvents, metals and compounds, asphyxiants, nitriles and pharmaceuticals. About 10 million U.S. workers are exposed to solvents, and an unknown number are exposed to other ototoxicants. The NIOSH Occupational Hearing Loss Surveillance Program has collected millions of de-identified worker audiograms and related data from audiometric service providers, hospitals and others who perform hearing testing for noise-exposed workers. NIOSH examined these data, and other available data sources, such as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention population surveys, to generate national estimates for noise exposure, hearing loss and related conditions (e.g., tinnitus) by industry, and when data were available, by occupation. The literature was also examined for available estimates for U.S. military workers.

Collaborative initiatives to expedite progress in the risk assessment and management of ototoxic exposures at work

Thais Morata, Research Epidemiologist, Noise and Acoustics Team, NIOSH: “Collaborative initiatives to expedite progress in the risk assessment and management of ototoxic exposures at work”

Abstract: Several common chemicals can damage hearing and interact with noise. Chemicals identified as ototoxic include solvents, metals, asphyxiants, carbon monoxide, organotins, polychlorinated biphenyls (PBCs), and certain pesticides. Reports from animal experiments demonstrate that chemicals can interact synergistically with noise or potentiate its effects. The interaction is modified by several factors, including the temporal distribution of the noise exposure. Some ototoxic chemicals can affect hearing even with low or no noise exposure. Evidence has prompted the proposal of new guidelines and standards on hearing loss prevention in the US and abroad. In 2018, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) jointly published the Safety and Health Information Bulletin Preventing Hearing Loss Caused by Chemical (Ototoxicity) and Noise Exposure. In 2020, the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists’ Threshold Limit Values® publication for the first time included an ototoxicity notation to alert the safety and health community about the risk. In 2020, NIOSH joined the International Ototoxicity Management Group to develop guidelines on ototoxicants in the workplace. NIOSH also joined the Collaboration on Ototoxicity Risk Assessment initiative by the Health and Environmental Sciences Institute (HESI) focused on the mechanisms of toxicity. This presentation will describe these developments and current recommendations for preventing auditory effects of exposure to ototoxicants.

A Review of OSHA’s Noise Standard Applicability to the Oil and Gas Industry

Audrey Profitt, OSHA: “A Review of OSHA’s Noise Standard Applicability to the Oil and Gas Industry”

Abstract: OSHA’s NORA Oil and Gas Spring Health and Safety Summit 2022 noise presentation, A review of OSHA’s Noise Standard Applicability to the Oil and Gas Industry, will cover the background of the Noise standard, 29 CFR 1910.95, its applicability and implementation to the Oil and Gas Industry.  Also covered will be federal enforcement statistics, applicable letters of interpretation, and addressing emerging issues related to noise and hearing conservation programs.

Are All Engineering Controls Considered Equal?

Chad Hyman, Chief Operating Officer, SRP Environmental: “Are All Engineering Controls Considered Equal?”

Abstract: During operational advances, there are sometimes situations in which engineering solutions are implemented under the pretense of “minimizing a concern” or being a solution to “eliminate health concerns”.  Even though the implementation of these controls is performed with good intentions, their effectiveness of controlling all associated hazards may not align as initially planned. This presentation will review data collected from two separate Noise Assessments, in which the presenter evaluated the noise reduction capabilities of changing the operational power source of a drilling rig and pressure pumping fleet from diesel to fully electric.After reviewing these individual studies, the presenter will provide a real-time example of how an industrial hygienist could be beneficial during the early stages of planning.  This specific example will provide a quantitative noise model that was used to determine potential risk of installing a compressor within the vicinity of residential properties.

Oil & gas noise: 5 things that make your ears go ouch

Chris Warnick, Benchmark Safety, Health, & Environmental Services, LLC: “Oil & gas noise: 5 things that make your ears go ouch”

Abstract: Noise is a pervasive stressor not only common to oil and gas operations but also almost any occupational setting.  The stressor has the potential to cause hearing loss in workers involved in the construction, drilling, completions, production, midstream, and downstream phases of the oil and gas industry.  This presentation will focus on the evaluation and control of five of the more prevalent noise sources within the industry.  The suggestions presented will include approaches to the assessment of noise exposures as well as practical noise controls, emphasizing the hierarchy of controls.

Audiometry testing in the workplace

Michael Odinet, Chief Medical Officer, XstremeMD: “Audiometry testing in the workplace”

Abstract: Onsite audiometry testing has been implemented on offshore installations within the Gulf of Mexico.  This allows for convenience on the part of the patient and allows for the medical provider to be a proactive component in companies hearing conservation program.  The location of the testing typically occurs within the sick bay of the installation.  Calibrated soundproof booths meeting the OSHA ears covered standard.  Audiometry testing is conducted on calibrated instruments using air-conduction, pure tone.  Technicians performing the test, typically paramedics, are certified Occupational Hearing Conservationist through the Council for accreditation in Occupation Hearing Conservation.  Work schedule adjustments are made to afford the patient at least 14 continuous hours in noise environments below 80dB.  Auditory examination is conducted prior to the test and printed results are submitted for review.  Annual exams must be compared to the baseline in a timely fashion to meet the 30-day re-evaluation period.  Noted standard threshold shift (STS) must be evaluated by an audiologist to determine if the shift is temporary or permanent.  Age correction calculations are conducted with noted shifts.  Missed opportunities would include assuming that an STS is or is not work related.  The totality of the circumstances surrounding the loss must be considered and evaluated.  Age correction calculations can be conducted to rule out presbycusis.  There must be an evidentiary basis that the loss is more likely than not solely attributable to something other than the occupational noise exposure before such a determination can be made.  Partial influence of the work environment would still result in the lose being considered work related.  All cases of work-related noise induced hearing loss need to require evaluation of the patient’s hearing conservation practices and the configuration of the work environment, including PPE and applicable administrative controls.  Pitfalls to avoid include ensuring that the technician always in the room with the patient during the test to alert of alarm activation.  Booth is placed to allow easy of entry and exit.  Employer’s must ensure that employees are properly trained on the use of hearing protection.  Foam ear plugs are very common, and employers must increase their vigilance to ensure that these devices are properly inserted to achieve maximum benefit.

Earplug fit testing and evaluating earplug performance over a work-shift with a fit-test system.

Bill Murphy, Stephenson and Stephenson, Research and Consulting, LLC: “Earplug fit testing and evaluating earplug performance over a work-shift with a fit-test system.”

Abstract: For over 30 years, hearing conservation professionals have known that the Noise Reduction Rating is not necessarily representative of the protection afforded to the average user of hearing protection.  The basics of hearing protector fit testing systems and how to use the personal attenuation rating (PAR) will be presented.  A case study from an evaluation of earplug use at a bottling plant will be presented.  Changes in personal attenuation ratings of foam and pre-molded earplugs were measured from active workers over the course of a 2-hour work-shift.  Formable earplugs were found to retain their initial PAR slightly better than pre-molded earplugs.  More earplugs failures (falling out of the ear) were observed for pre-molded earplugs than formable plugs.

Quantitative Earplug Fit Testing for Oil and Gas Workers: A Case Study

Kalie Boot, Senior IH and OH Advisor, Ovintiv: “Quantitative Earplug Fit Testing for Oil and Gas Workers: A Case Study”

Abstract: OSHA 1910.95 states that employees “shall be given the opportunity to select their hearing protectors….” and that employers shall “provide training in the use and care, (as well as), ensure proper initial fitting”. So how do you as an employer offer up a range of hearing protectors and ensure proper fit? Verifying the noise reduction rating (NRR) of a plug is one step but quantifying inner ear protection is the only way to be assured your staff are protected. In this presentation I will walk through our case study of fit testing Oil and Gas operators for ear plugs. We defined success as ensuring all operators had a solution that would cover them for 20 dB of attenuation. It was not as easy as we thought but we are here to share our learnings. Learn what took us 6 years to understand, in 10 minutes.

Preview of NIOSH Study, “Noise Exposures and Hearing Loss in the Oil and Gas Extraction Industry”

Bradley King, Senior Industrial Hygienist, NORA Oil and Gas Extraction Sector Program, NIOSH: “Preview of NIOSH Study “Noise Exposures and Hearing Loss in the Oil and Gas Extraction Industry””

Abstract: Noise induced hearing loss, caused by damage to nerve cells of the inner ear, often happens slowly and occurs without notice. Because of a lack of published studies, little is known of the burden of hearing loss in the U.S. oil and gas extraction (OGE) worker population. This presentation will discuss a new NIOSH research study to systematically characterize and assess noise and ototoxicant exposures, evaluate controls currently implemented in the industry, and explore the extent of hearing loss experienced by OGE workers.

Occupational Heat Stress

Brenda Jacklitsch, Research Health Scientist, NIOSH: “Occupational Heat Stress”

Abstract: Workers who are exposed to extreme heat or work in hot environments, and those engaged in strenuous physical activities may be at risk for heat stress. Exposure to extreme heat can result in occupational illnesses (e.g., heat stroke, heat exhaustion), and heat can also increase workers’ risk of injuries (e.g., burns, dizziness resulting in falls and traumatic injuries). During this session the following will be provided: (1) background for understanding heat stress and heat-related illnesses and injuries, (2) an overview of the NIOSH Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Exposure to Heat and Hot Environments, and (3) educational resources and tools, such as the recently updated OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool app.

OSHA’s Heat Stress Enforcement Initiative

Gary Orr, OSHA: “OSHA’s Heat Stress Enforcement Initiative”

Abstract: This presentation describes the OSHA heat enforcement initiative to prevent and protect employees from serious heat-related illnesses and deaths while working in hazardous hot indoor or outdoor environments.  The heat initiative expands on OSHA’s ongoing heat-related illness prevention campaign by setting forth the enforcement component and reiterating its compliance assistance and outreach efforts.  The initiative prioritizes heat-related interventions and inspections of work activities on days when the heat index exceeds 80℉.  The initiative emphasizes the implementation of proactive interventions, such as water, rest, and shade, and other important prevention measures such as acclimatization of new or returning workers.

OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention Campaign

Pamela Barclay, OSHA: “OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention Campaign”

Abstract: Although illness from exposure to heat is preventable, heat illness sickens thousands and results in the death of dozens of workers each year. The Heat Illness Prevention Campaign aims to educate employers and workers on the dangers of working in the heat. This presentation will discuss the Campaign’s origins, strategies and tactics, and plans for 2022.

OSHA’s Heat Rulemaking Activities

Stephen Schayer, Director, Office of Physical Hazards, Directorate of Standards and Guidance, OSHA: “OSHA’s Heat Rulemaking Activities”

Abstract: On October 27, 2021, OSHA published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) for Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings in the Federal Register. With this publication, OSHA is beginning the rulemaking process to consider a heat-specific workplace standard. A standard specific to heat-related injury and illness prevention would more clearly set forth employer obligations and the measures necessary to more effectively protect employees from hazardous heat. The public comment period closed on January 26, 2022.  This presentation will provide an update on OSHA’s heat rulemaking activities.

Risk Factors for Heat Stress Injuries and Fatalities in the Oil and Gas Extraction Workers

Nancy Lin, Occupational Medicine Fellow, Colorado School of Public Health, CU Anschutz Medical Campus: “Risk Factors for Heat Stress Injuries and Fatalities in the Oil and Gas Extraction Workers”

Abstract: Many oil and gas extraction (OGE) activities are performed outdoors in high heat environments, which places OGE workers at high risk for occupational heat stress illness. This presentation reviews heat stress fatalities and serious injuries that have occurred in the OGE industry and identifies common risk factors. Data from the NIOSH Fatalities in Oil and Gas (FOG) database were reviewed between the years 2015 and 2019. Nine fatalities from the FOG database were identified as definite or possible heat-related cases based on criteria defined in this review. More emphasis on adequate training, acclimatization regimens, medical screening for cardiovascular disease, and education about the dangers of amphetamine use in hot conditions may reduce the fatalities and injuries from heat stress in this industry.

Essential Elements of a Heat Stress Management Program

Adam McCann, Liberty Mutual: “Essential Elements of a Heat Stress Management Program”

Abstract: The discussion will revolve around essential elements of a heat stress management program, and how they contribute to the overall health and safety of workers in the oil and gas setting.  An overview of Liberty Mutual’s newly developed “Heat Stress Management Program Assessment” will be provided, showing how the tool can be helpful in preventing heat related illnesses during hotter periods of the year.

Heat Stress, Physiological Strain, and the Occupational Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Jon Williams, Senior Research Physiologist, National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory, NIOSH: “Heat Stress, Physiological Strain, and the Occupational Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)”

Abstract: Workers employed in numerous occupational settings are at risk for exposure to hot environments.  In many settings, the worker is required to wear PPE to protect against external hazards.  However, encapsulating PPE is capable of trapping body heat which then adds to the thermal stress experienced by the worker.  The thermal stress can potentially result in heat injury or illness.  This presentation will provide a brief review of the physiological responses to external thermal stress and the mechanisms for body heat transfer to the environment to maintain a constant core body temperature.  The effects of PPE on these mechanisms will be discussed as well as the potential means to mitigate the “burden” of PPE on the wearer.

Flame Resistant/Arc Rated Clothing Selection vs. Mother Nature

Derek Sang, Technical Training Manager, Bulwark Protection: “Flame Resistant/Arc Rated Clothing Selection vs. Mother Nature”

Abstract: How do you balance protecting your employees against the improbable while dealing with the daily hazards such as excessive heat?  Balancing your work environment which includes heat stress while remaining true to your hazard assessment that recognizes thermal exposure to arc flashes or flash fires is not easy. What additional considerations need to be addressed when building a Flame Resistant/Arc Rated Clothing program that protects against the thermal hazard while working in the extremes.When the environment is the hazard what do your people need to know about heat stress as it relates to performing their job while properly wearing their FR/AR clothing. This session will utilize power-point, video, and photographs to demonstrate how FR/AR Clothing is designed to work and how to balance FR/AR clothing while working in extreme conditions that includes extreme heat. Attendees will take away:

  • Understanding and preventing heat stress
  • What to look for in FR/AR clothing to assist working in extremes
  • How to utilize different FR/AR fabrics to maximize comfort in extreme temperatures
  • How to remain compliant in extreme conditions
  • Common mistakes and how to avoid them when deploying FR/AR clothing in Hot
Silica in the Oilfield Summit 2.0
Presentation Abstracts
OSHA Update on Respirable Crystalline Silica Activities

Todd Jordan, Director, OSHA Health Response Team: “OSHA Update on Respirable Crystalline Silica Activities”

Abstract: This presentation will provide an update of OSHA activities and initiatives related to respirable crystalline silica (RCS).  This will include an overview of the OSHA Directive issued in 2020 that establishes OSHA’s field inspection and enforcement procedures for the RCS standards.  This will also include a discussion of the obligation to implement engineering controls to limit silica exposures to the new PEL in hydraulic fracturing operations in the oil and gas industry by June 23, 2021. Additionally, an overview of the current National Emphasis Program to identify and reduce worker exposures to RCS in specific industries (including oil and gas) which are expected to have the highest exposures to RCS. Finally, a brief summary of inspection activities and OSHA sampling data for RCS in the oil and gas industry will also be shared.

Update on NIOSH Silica Exposure Assessment Field Work

John Snawder, Toxicologist, Co-Director NIOSH Center for Direct Reading and Sensor Technologies, NIOSH: “Update on NIOSH Silica Exposure Assessment Field Work”

Abstract: NIOSH has been conducting field studies to evaluate worker exposures to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) during hydraulic fracturing for more than ten years. Early findings from this research identified several sources of airborne RCS and demonstrated that hydraulic fracturing operations present a substantial risk for exposure to RCS for some workers. The oil and gas industry has been taking positive steps to reduce exposures through administrative and engineering controls. NIOSH research is continuing to evaluate effectiveness of these control solutions using a comprehensive approach of real-time and traditional occupational exposure assessment methods.

In-Field Silica Sample Analysis Methods

Emanuele Cauda, Engineer, Co-Director NIOSH Center for Direct Reading and Sensor Technologies, NIOSH: “In-Field Silica Sample Analysis Methods”

Abstract: Monitoring the exposure and concentration of respirable crystalline silica in the Oil and Gas industry is the first step in the effort to reduce and minimize the exposure of workers for this hazard and the associated health effects. Traditional monitoring techniques are accurate, but they don’t provide timely information to the user for prompt interventions. Field-based monitoring approaches can be considered complementary tools for industrial hygienists and health & safety professionals to generate needed information and knowledge on this hazard. This presentation will describe a number of field-based monitoring tools developed and in-use at NIOSH during field studies.

Silica Exposures in the Oil and Gas Industry in British Columbia, Canada - A Historic Perspective

Budd Phillips, Regional Service Manager, WorkSafeBC: “Silica Exposures in the Oil and Gas Industry in British Columbia, Canada – A Historic Perspective”

Abstract: Budd Phillips will provide a regulators’ perspective of silica exposures experienced in the northeast portion of British Columbia over the past decade. This region contains the majority of oil and gas deposits in the province.  The evolution of silica exposures and resulting controls created by industry will be explored.  From raising awareness during routine inspections utilizing a NIOSH bulletin on silica, to identification of the primary issues, engagement with industry, monitoring and oversite, to understanding industry’s positive response and ownership to create effective controls.

A Human and Organizational Performance Perspective on Silica Exposures in the Oil and Gas Industry

Robert Waterhouse, Industry Development Program Manager, Energy Safety Canada: “A Human and Organizational Performance Perspective on Silica Exposures in the Oil and Gas Industry”

Abstract: Robert Waterhouse will provide a brief overview of Human and Organizational Performance and review a number of case studies involving silica exposure where workers seemingly made poor choices in the control of silica. The audience will be encouraged to reflect on how they can setup frontline workers to be more successful in the control of silica exposures for their oil and gas exploration activities.

Mining Dust Control Technology with Potential Application for the Oil and Gas Industry

Andrew Cecala, Mining Engineer, NIOSH: “Mining Dust Control Technology with Potential Application for the Oil and Gas Industry”

Abstract: The mining program within NIOSH conducts research to develop and evaluate control technologies that can reduce the respirable dust exposure of mine workers. A handbook published by NIOSH in 2019 summarizes these control technologies. A number of these controls have the potential for reducing respirable silica dust levels for workers in the oil and gas industry. A brief overview of the handbook and more in-depth discussions of specific controls (including filtration/pressurization systems for enclosed operator cabs, Helmet-CAM technology, dust sensor technology and smart systems (on-going research)) will be presented.

Calfrac’s 10 Year Journey in Responding to Silica Regulations and the Need for Controls in the Oilfield.

James Deister Jr., HSE Manager US and Global Operations, Calfrac Well Services: “Calfrac’s 10 Year Journey in Responding to Silica Regulations and the Need for Controls in the Oilfield.”

Abstract: Jim Deister will provide a service company’s perspective on incorporating silica regulations while working with the hierarchy of controls. The OSHA regulations passed in 2016 were tied to deadlines for the hydraulic fracturing industry in 2018 and 2021, causing a multitude of challenges.  Many of those challenges took place with different sand delivery systems and customers at times controlling which systems were deployed, which resulted in variances with employee silica exposures.  Calfrac moved its 3rd party silica sampling program in house, developed silica exposure control plans, a medical surveillance program, written exposure assessments and assessed changes in PPE all while evaluating different engineering controls.  Employee training became critical on the why and how of reducing silica exposures.

The Benefits of a Proppant Dust Control Coating to Reduce Silica Exposure.

Tom Thorn, Commercial Manager, Energy Division, Arkema-ArrMaz: “The Benefits of a Proppant Dust Control Coating to Reduce Silica Exposure.”

Abstract: Hydraulic fracturing operations in the oil and gas industry must implement engineering controls to limit worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica by June 23, 2021.  This presentation will help companies prepare for the implementation date by discussing:

  • Important criteria that must be considered to effectively evaluate different engineering control options
  • The benefits of an engineered proppant coating to help meet silica dust permissible exposure limits
  • The impact of sand characteristics on the selection and performance of proppant coatings
Here’s the Dirt on Silica Dust Mitigation

Brian Dorfman, Vice-President–Operations, PropX: “Here’s the Dirt on Silica Dust Mitigation”

Abstract: PropX is a technology company that provides unique equipment & services to support the oilfield frac sand logistical demands. The PropX system removes all pneumatic transfer of sand and delivers the product via gravity feed to an enclosed conveying system.  Recent PropX developments related to reducing or eliminating entirely the employee exposure to silica dust at the wellsite include enclosed positive air displacement operator booths & automated box open/close systems.  Furthermore, PropX is the only company in the space that has a commercial solution to using wet sand at the wellsite.  This process removes the energy intensive and operationally complex process of drying the product while eliminating silica dust exposure from the mine to the wellhead.  This is a definitive solution to the silica dust exposure challenge the industry faces.

Introduction to

Bradley King, Industrial Hygienist, NIOSH: “Introduction to”

Abstract: The website ‘Work Safely with Silica’ ( is a one-stop source of information to help contractors, workers, and other stakeholders prevent silica-related illnesses. Originally developed specifically for the construction industry by CPWR, a NIOSH partner supporting construction research and training, the website has been expanded with content for the oil and gas industry. This site includes tools and information needed to identify silica hazards, understand the health risk, and find equipment and methods to control the dust. Users will also find information on regulatory and voluntary efforts to minimize silica exposures as well as a central place to share successes and challenges.

Driving Compliance through Automation & Integration

Brendan Gilbert, Senior Vice President of Service & Quality, Solaris Oilfield Infrastructure: “Driving Compliance through Automation & Integration”

Abstract: Solaris will lead off its presentation with how we have used Appendix G of OSHA Instruction Directive No. CPL 02-02-080 to guide our engineering & behavior initiatives. We will discuss the specific variables that apply to Solaris’ area of operation and control. This will include a brief discussion of our approach to sampling and some aggregated results of testing we have done thus far. Finally, we will discuss how we have aligned our engineering & behavior controls to the principles of the Dust Control Handbook for Industrial Minerals Mining and Processing, with a brief description of the controls we have engineered & designed. Automation and standardization will be themes interwoven throughout.

Cutting Edge Technologies for Silica Dust Control

Greg Bierie, Technical Sales & Marketing Specialist, Benetech: “Cutting Edge Technologies for Silica Dust Control”

Abstract: Benetech, Inc. of Aurora, IL is collaborating with researchers at NIOSH to develop solutions to address the issue of silica dust abatement and personnel safety in the workplace. Cutting-edge technologies manufactured and offered by Benetech are being combined with novel research products developed by NIOSH researchers. These technologies will address silica dust mitigation and meet or exceed regulatory guidelines for silica dust control. These innovative new technologies will focus on engineering controls to accomplish advances in collection, containment, and suppression along with dust sensing, as well as web-enabled sensors and controls to monitor and actuate peripheral equipment.  This technology has been dubbed the “Dustinator.”  Its applications include sand mover dust abatement enhancements and belt conveyor technologies that control and mitigate silica dust issues in frack sand material handling.  Silica dust is an issue from the mine site up to and including the last mile dust management at the well site. The Dustinator combines the research and development expertise of NIOSH with the Total Dust Management technologies and patented systems developed by Benetech. This presentation focuses on the design and function of this novel engineering control as well as advanced safety and serviceability enhancements to ensure the safety of personnel in the workplace.

Source Energy's Solution to Wellsite Silica Dust

Shawn Furlong, CRSP, Vice-President Health Safety & Environment, Source Energy Services: “Source Energy’s Solution to Wellsite Silica Dust”

Abstract: Source Energy Services has been part of the hydraulic fracturing industry for the past 23 years. By focusing on customer service and innovation they meet and exceed the industry’s continuous growth demands for proppant supply and services. Source’s product offerings include the production, transportation, and logistics management of Northern White proppant, as well as in-basin and well site frac sand storage. With silica sand being a core function of Source’s operations, the company has successfully controlled silica dust exposure throughout its entire supply chain through a combination of engineering, administrative, and personal protective equipment controls, as well as an eye for ingenuity. For example, the Sahara Unit that stores and distributes frac sand on the well site has proven to be an industry leader in well site silica dust reduction for Source and their customers. A detailed look at the Sahara’s key components will highlight how these improvements were achieved. With current Sahara operations in both Canada and the US, Source is well suited to meet the changing OSHA regulations, both within its own facilities and on client wellsite’s.

Wet Sand as a Silica Dust Control: Performance and Logistics Compared to Existing Controls

Kalie Boot, Senior EHS Assurance Advisor, and Ian Wilson, Commodities Manager, Ovintiv USA Inc. Oil and Gas: “Wet Sand as a Silica Dust Control: Performance and Logistics Compared to Existing Controls”

Abstract: At Ovintiv we have been working towards the OSHA action level for a decade. Why? With operations spanning across North America, our company exposure limit is 0.025 mg/m3 (25 µg/m3 – OSHA action level). In this 30-minute session we invite you to learn from our 10-year journey. We will give a brief overview of controls trialed, lessons learned, and then compare those controls to our work with wet sand. Wet sand shifts the infrastructure on site and our own Ian Wilson from our supply chain group will speak to the logistics of working with wet sand.

2020 Silica in the Oilfield Summit

Respirable crystalline silica is a confirmed occupational exposure risk during hydraulic fracturing: What do we know about controls? Proceedings from the Silica in the Oilfield Conference

The findings and conclusions in these presentations are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and the NORA Oil and Gas Extraction (OGE) Sector Council. Mention of any company or product does not constitute endorsement by CDC, NIOSH, or the NORA OGE Sector Council.