Natural gas is an efficient fuel, but it certainly has its dangers. Natural gas safety is highly important to everyone who relies on it and especially those who work with it. Residential gas utility customers receive a lot of information about safety when using gas appliances, but for industrial workers who work around gas, what else do they need to do to keep themselves and their co-workers safe?
Workers in industrial settings have to be aware of the machinery that uses natural gas as well as how that machinery works — and how to shut it down. Employers who intend to hire more workers to start on a project utilizing natural gas should ensure those workers receive proper training.
Homeowners are told to call 811 to determine where utility lines lie in their yard before the homeowners start digging. This rule holds for industrial sites, too. Workers can never assume that a field has no lines running under it, because sometimes it’s not possible to tell from looking at the land what may have been buried there decades ago.
Even if no digging will take place, workers dealing with heavy equipment should know where the gas and water lines are. Very heavy equipment can create some soil compaction, which can adversely affect underground pipes.
Any time natural gas is onsite, either as a fuel for equipment or running through pipes, carbon monoxide is a risk. In fact, carbon monoxide poisoning from forklifts (which can run on natural gas, propane, and other fuels) is not unheard of. Industrial workers should know exactly which machinery uses gas and other fuels, and there should be carbon monoxide detectors placed throughout the worksite.
Employers also need to train workers to recognize the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, both in themselves and in others. Because workers may be working in enclosed areas with no windows, poisoning symptoms can sneak up on them quickly.
Homeowners have to deal with some specific sources of natural gas leaks — the stove and oven, the water heater, the furnace, and maybe a generator. Industrial workers may have to deal with much more. Not only do they have gas-powered equipment, but supply lines and storage containers are also potential sources of leaks.
Natural gas supplied by the city has a chemical added to it to create an odor. If workers have dulled senses of smell, supervisors need to account for this. The odor of natural gas is really the only way to find out if there is a potential leak when workers aren’t performing targeted inspections, and someone who has no sense of smell or one that isn’t very good can be at risk. That worker’s area may need more inspections for potential leaks.
What’s more is that the workers in the area have to be able to shut down the equipment and stop the leak quickly. This is not just a matter of leaving the room and calling the utility company. Workers have to be able to shut everything down, evacuate the area, and get the message out rapidly (so no one decides to take a cigarette break). Workers still need to call the utility company, of course, and possibly the fire department. But these are not the only steps the workers need to take. Knowing how to handle the equipment and shut off the gas supply themselves is essential.
If you want your workers to receive professional training, check out NTT Training’s Natural Gas Maintenance and Safety program. This is a three-day course that covers reliability, safety, conservation, and venting, among other gas-related topics. This is a vital course for those who will be working around natural gas. Don’t let your workers take unnecessary risks — have them undergo this short training for maximum safety. Connect with NTT Training today for more information.
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