At the Law Offices of Miller & Bicklein, PC, in Texas, we are proud of the fact that the U.S. once again is the world’s top oil and gas producer. We know, however, that if you work at an oil field that uses fracking as one of its extraction methodologies, your job could subject you to long-term health risks.
As Concentra, a national health care company, explains, your greatest risk stems from silica exposure. Both the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have concerns about the hazardous substances to which you and other oilfield workers are subjected. Silica is one of the top things on their list.
In its crystal form, silica goes by the name of quartz. Rocks, sand, soil and numerous other substances contain this common mineral. The problem is that cutting, chipping, grinding or drilling into quartz causes the silica to break down into fine dust-like fibers that you then inhale. Silica is a known carcinogen, and when it builds up in your lungs, it can lead to silicosis and other incurable lung diseases.
Nearly two million workers face hazardous silica exposure nationwide, but fracking workers like you are at highest risk, especially if your job entails one of the following:
- Rock drilling
- Abrasive blasting
Another on-the-job danger you face is exposure to benzene. This colorless, highly flammable organic chemical compound often collects in the surface fluids found on fracking sites. Benzene also is carcinogenic, and long-term exposure can damage your blood and bone marrow.
Fracking hazards vary from site to site, but OSHA requires all employers to implement safety measures, procedures and precautions. Your best strategy is to be aware of them at your location and follow them closely so as to remain as healthy as possible.
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