How to Properly Conduct an Oil Spill Clean up
Conducting an oil spill clean up in contaminated areas is necessary to prevent polluting the drinking water, poisoning the wildlife and contaminating the environment. However, being exposed to oil spills can induce harmful effects to your body.
According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the toxic components found in oil spills can cause irritation to the eyes, skin and respiratory system. It can also cause cancer.
Not fun right? That is why it is a must to practice precautionary safety measures at all cost. This article enumerates a few safety measures that you should follow when cleaning up oil spills.
Possible Risks When Overexposed and Avoiding Heat Injuries
One of the most common yet hazardous risks that oil spill clean up workers face is heat stress. This is caused by being exposed under the scorching heat of the sun and from the heat of the required protective equipment
Heat injuries occur from heat stress when the body isn’t capable anymore of dealing with the heat. These injuries can be in the form of heat rash, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
- Heat rash occurs when the skin is irritated due to lack of evaporation of sweat by the skin. This can be prevented by applying powder to the skin rather than ointment and cream.
- Heat exhaustion happens when the body lacks water and salt due to heavy sweating. Symptoms include dizziness, irritability, nausea, and heavy sweating. Staying hydrated can prevent this to happen
- Heat stroke is the most serious of heat-related injuries. This occurs when the body is no longer able to regulate its temperature. Symptoms of heat stroke are confusion, seizures and loss of consciousness. This is an emergency situation.
To avoid heat-related injuries, use cooling fans, observe proper diet, avoid alcoholic and caffeinated drinks while working or apply the regulated work/rest cycle which specifies the ratio of time between work and rest to prevent fatigue and overexposure to heat.
What is the Importance of Conducting First aid?
We should all be aware that the proximity of the environment around oil spills is toxic. No matter how much we strive to be careful, there are still certain instances of injury that we cannot avoid. Moreover, there are no two oil spills alike.
Most of the time, workers have the difficult task of working in unfamiliar surroundings. First aid should be readily available like medical facilities nearby and arranged medical transportation in case of serious injuries.
You Should Avoid Direct Contact With Chemical Dispersants
We should all be aware that coming in contact with chemicals at the
- In case of eye contact, immediately wash eyes with large amounts of water for a period of 15 minutes. Seek medical consultation immediately after.
- In the event of skin contact, remove the clothing that was contaminated and wash the affected area with water and soap for 15 minutes. If irritation still occurs, seek medical aid immediately.
- Avoid inhaling vapors. If it would help, use a respirator. Also, avoid areas with combustible materials at all times! We should all be aware that smoking is not allowed within near proximity of these areas.
Always Prepare a Decontamination Plan for Every Operation
In every clean up operation, all equipment, vehicles and personnel should be properly decontaminated after each clean up operation. To be more organized, there should always be a decontamination plan to make sure that everything is completely clean.
The International Association of Oil and Gas Producers have specified certain guidelines in decontamination of each operation.
First, the decontamination plan should include the decontamination location in the facility. It should also specify the personnel-in-charge of decontamination and the step-by-step procedure to follow. Lastly, it should also contain certain methods and procedures in the prevention of secondary contamination of clean up areas.
These are some of the ways to properly conduct oil spill clean up. Avoiding heat injuries like heat rash, heat stroke and heat exhaustion could save your life. You can also check this 16-minute video on YouTube to help you and your staff organize your oil spill clean up operation in your area. You should remember that prevention is better than cure.