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Dangers of hydrogen sulfide exposure at work

Oklahoma workers whose jobs involve working around hydrogen sulfide should be aware of the risks posed by exposure to the substance. The gas is especially toxic, and exposure to it can result in serious injury and in some cases death.

Hydrogen sulfide, or H2S, is a common byproduct especially prevalent in the oil and gas industry. Depending on the parts per million of gas contained in the air, resulting injuries may range from eye, nose and throat irritation to instant death. At high levels of concentration, the gas may also spontaneously explode.

Because of the extreme risk posed by H2S, employers should conduct risk assessments of their workplaces, including testing for levels. It is smart to utilize protection that is beyond the baseline industry standards as well. Respirators should be mandatory for all workers whose work requires them to work around H2S gas, and the respirators should be tested for their efficiency and protection rating. Workers should not remove protective gear while working in an area in which there is a risk of H2S exposure.

Workplace safety should be a top concern of both employers and workers. An employee who believes that the employer is not providing necessary safety equipment or taking preventative measures to help avoid dangerous conditions should bring those concerns to the attention of a supervisor. Those who suffer serious personal injuries while working on the job may want to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits. Through a claim, the injured worker may recover the costs of required medical care, ongoing treatment and rehabilitation needs and monthly disability payments if left unable to work. By seeking the help of a workers' compensation attorney, an injured worker may be able to maximize the amount of recovered benefits.

Source: Occupational Health & Safety, "Respiratory Protection in Extreme H2S Environments", Eric Dzuba, Feb. 1, 2015

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