New document offers free help for controlling hazardous substances

NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. — Enform, the safety association for Canada’s upstream oil and gas industry, has developed a tool to help companies in the oil and gas sector manage chemical hazards.

Controlling Chemical Hazards in the Oil and Gas Industry is a new document developed by Enform, after both governments of Alberta and British Columbia have approached the organizations about the lack of knowledge among workers about chemicals and chemical hazards, according to Corinne Paul, program manager for Enform.

In a session at the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering (CSSE) Professional Development Conference, Paul said the new document offers some useful tools for organizations dealing with chemical hazards.

Lack of knowledge among workers around hazardous substances is the biggest challenge companies face with chemical handling, Paul said.

“We want chemicals to become as readily recognizable (as a hazard) as slips, trips and falls,” she said. “Communication is the foundation to controlling chemical hazards.”

The document contains several tools and information to help workers identify, assess, evaluate and analyze, as well as control chemical hazards.

The content is categorized into information pertaining to workers, planners, supervisors. There’s also a category of information that pertains to everyone involved in the workplace, Paul said.

Mike Phibbs, owner of MSDS Binders Inc. and Paul’s co-presenter at the CSSE conference, said the document used control banding approach to make it easy for smaller employers to quickly find information they need to safely deal with specific chemicals.

According to the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention control banding is a generic technique that determines a control measure (for example dilution ventilation, engineering controls, containment, etc.) based on a range or “band” of hazards (such as skin/eye irritant, very toxic, carcinogenic, etc) and exposures (small, medium, large exposure).

“Control banding’s advantage is to assess the (chemical) product in a manner that protects the workers without (having to know) the exact composition,” Phibbs said.

The Controlling Chemical Hazards in the Oil and Gas Industry document is available as a free download on Enform’s website.