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The effects of one of the worst environmental disasters in the U.S. still linger on boulder-strewn beaches in the Gulf of Alaska. Twenty-five years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill set off one of the most devastating environmental disasters in U.S. history; scientists say that a surprising amount of oil still clings to boulder-strewn beaches in the Gulf of Alaska. And that oil could stick around for decades to come.

Monday marks the 25th anniversary of the spill, when a tanker ran aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound. The accident wiped out herring and salmon runs. And some of the affected wildlife, like sea otters and pink salmon, are still recovering.

The latest findings on lingering oil came last month, when scientists announced that spilled oil in the Gulf of Alaska still has most of the same chemical compounds as oil sampled 11 days after the accident. The scientists presented evidence of a lingering, foamy, mousse-like emulsion at a major ocean science conference in Hawaii. The oil's presence in areas that were cleaned right after the spill points to a need to monitor certain environments long after the visible effects disappear, the researchers say.

It's Like Mayonnaise

There are two main reasons why there's still oil on some of the beaches of the Kenai Fjords and Katmai National Parks and Preserves in the Gulf of Alaska, explains Gail Irvine, a marine ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and lead researcher on the study.

When the oil first spilled from the tanker, it mixed with the seawater and formed an emulsion that turned it into a goopy compound, she says.

"When oil forms into the foam, the outside is weathering, but the inside isn't," Irvine explains. It's like mayonnaise left out on the counter. The surface will crust over, but the inside of the clump still looks like mayonnaise, she explains.

When that foamy oil met the boulders and cobbles of beaches in the Gulf of Alaska, it plopped down between and under the rocks, and it's still there.


Safety - Articles & Info

Air Winch Line Caught in Derrick Fingers Results in an Employee Being Pulled off of the Rig Floor


While rigging up a fill and circulation (FAC) tool, the air winch line became trapped in the fingers on the derrick. This prevented the tool from aligning with the wellbore for installation. The tool was lowered in to the V-door to take the weight off and thus free the cable. As an employee pulled the cable free from the derrick fingers it jerked violently pulling the employee off of the rig floor. The employee was thrown approximately 10 feet (3 meters) off of the rig floor and fell striking his head on the edge of the V-door. The employee then fell another 20 feet (6 meters) to the ground.


-Training on FAC tool rig up and potential hazards was lacking.

-IF the AC tool needs to be laid out it must be placed on the catwalk and not the V-door stop.

-Situational awareness was a big factor. Due to the amount of people involved and the operation in progress when the accident occurred, the attention to detail should have been better. The rig floor was congested from the stand point of personnel on the floor;and drill pipe that was racked back in the derrick did impair visibility.

-The guards on the rig floor were not used when picking up equipment through the V-door.

-Speed while rigging up was an issue. The injured employee, who took the air winch line away from two other personnel, jerked it free from the derrick fingers. The potential danger had not been identified nor addressed.

-There was no verification that the air winch line was clear of the derrick fingers prior to picking up the tool..

-The drill pipe in the derrick impaired the air winch line operator's vision on the location of the air winch line.

-Improper placement of the FAC tool on the Pipe Stop on the V-door also contributed to the accident. The tool was set on the stop in a semi vertical position. An approximately 8 foot (2.4 meters) hose was on the bottom of the assembly 4 feet (1.2 meters). This action removed the slack instantly from the air winch line.

CORRECTIVE ACTIONS: To address this incident, this company did the following:

-The company reminded all rig personnel that if the V-door guards are not in place, fall protection should be used when working in this area.

-Through a company approved safety alert, the company communicated to all service personnel what had happened to increase awareness during this operation.

-The company instructed all drillers to verify that air winch line is not out of position on the derrick fingers prior to picking up the tool. If the derrick finger barriers are available, they should be verified that they are in place.

-The company instituted a policy change that does not allow their personnel to operate the rigs equipment. Personnel are to only operate their company specified equipment.

Safety - Articles & Info


Direct cold-related health problems:

Hypothermia: Hypothermia, a drop in the body's internal temperature below 95ºF, is a threat in frigid weather but can also strike at moderate temperatures. It is a medical emergency with a high fatality rate.

Frostbite: Skin, muscle, blood vessels, and nerves freeze and form ice crystals. Blood vessels become blocked with tissue debris that causes more damage. Frostbite is often irreversible and amputation is sometimes required. If the injured site heals, the victim may suffer chronic pain or numbness, excessive sweating, abnormal skin color, and joint pain. The feet, hands, ears, nose, and cheeks are the most frequently injured sites.

Immersion foot: If part of the body is covered with water or wet mud that is just above freezing, the area may become chronically swollen, weak, and sensitive to the cold.

Chilblain: Red, swollen skin, usually on hands and feet, that feels hot, tender, and itchy after cold exposure.

Indirect cold-related health problems:

Disease flare-ups : Conditions like arthritis and asthma can be made worse in cold environments.

Increase in injuries: Cold weather can decrease dexterity, mental skills, coordination, and cause a general decline in performance that affects safety.

Strains and sprains: Working in cold weather can increase the risk of injuries to muscles and tendons, for example, back strain.

Other health effects: Sinus irritation, viral infections, chronic lung disease, arthritis.

Factors that increase danger from the cold:

Air movement: High wind exposure, strong ventilation, moving through air -- as in an open vehicle.

Wetness: Wet skin, clothing or shoes from being wet with water, gasoline, alcohol, solvent, or other liquid that evaporates.

Sweating: Wet skin, clothing or shoes from sweating.

Under-dressing: Exposed fingers, cheeks, nose, ears; uncovered head.

Over-dressing: Too-thick clothing rather than layers; tight-fitting belt, clothing or shoes that restrict circulation; waterproof clothing that restricts evaporation.

Low activity level: Standing or sitting still, driving.

Contact with cold objects: These take the heat out of the body.

Being tired, hungry or thirsty: These keep the body from replacing lost heat.

Medical conditions: Especially those affecting circulation, such as diabetes, an underactive thyroid, heart disease, history of frostbite.

Medications: Some medications such as tranquillizers and beta-blockers cause drowsiness or decrease vasoconstriction.

Alcohol, caffeine, nicotine: Alcohol impairs judgement and reduces shivering. Caffeine increases urine production and blood circulation; both lead to a loss of body heat. Nicotine decreases blood flow to the extremities and raises the risk of cold injury.

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Safety - Articles & Info

Injuries and death in the workplace can ruin a company's image and cause major legal problems. No one wants their employees to get hurt or even killed. Policies and safety procedures should be put into place and followed according to the law and other applicable regulations. There are a few things that you can do to make sure that your employees stay as safe as possible in the workplace.

Make sure your employees know and acknowledge company policies and safety practices. Everyone should undergo some type of orientation to become more familiar with the company polices and safety procedures. Each employee should demonstrate that he or she understands those policies and procedures. Each employee should also sign a document stating that they have read and understand those policies and procedures as well.

Ensure that all of your employees are properly trained for the job. If your employee needs to be certified to operate a type of machinery, then that employee should never be allowed to operate the machinery without proper certification. Enroll your employees in regular training to make sure that they are up to date on the proper skills, especially if new machinery or equipment is introduced to the workplace.

Likewise, if your employee is not able to lift a certain amount of weight or does not have the capacity to handle certain dangerous situations, then that employee should not be permitted to work under those circumstances any longer. You may need to hire someone who can do the job without as much of a risk of getting hurt. Employees should be hired for what they can accomplish safely and not just because certain spots need to be filled.

All dangerous and high traffic areas should be marked properly. There may be different areas in your workplace, and some may be more prone to danger than others. Clear markers in the area should designate and separate these areas from others. Signs on doors, walls, and certain machinery can help. Tape and different colours of paint can also help separate these areas and draw attention to them.

Do not let employees work alone with heavy machinery, if at all possible. Someone else should always be in the area to assist anyone who encounters a problem. A floor manager or supervisor should always be available for employees to ask for help. Make sure that everyone has access to a phone in case of an emergency.

Of course, all employees should have access to proper safety gear, water to flush out eyes and wash skin in the case of chemical use, and fire extinguishers. All employees should be properly trained to use this equipment regularly, and all equipment should be inspected to make sure that it is all in good and usable condition at regular and appropriate intervals throughout the year.

Enforce an anti-drug policy in the workplace.No one can work safely if he or she is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This presents a huge problem that can be easily avoided if employees follow an anti-drug policy. Random drug tests may be done during employment, and employees should be screened before they are hired to begin with.

Some types of businesses are more dangerous than others, but most businesses all have the potential for injury or even death. Making sure that employees follow certain safety rules and are trained properly is a huge part of keeping everyone safe in the workplace. However, the workplace must be kept clean, in order, and have good working safety regulations in order to work cohesively with the employees' efforts to remain out of harm's way.

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What is Crystalline Silica?

Respirable crystalline silica - very small particles at least 100 times smaller than ordinary sand you might encounter on beaches and playgrounds - is created during work operations involving stone, rock, concrete, brick, block, mortar, and industrial sand. Exposures to respirable crystalline silica can occur when cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling, and crushing these materials. These exposures are common in brick, concrete, and pottery manufacturing operations, as well as during operations using industrial sand products, such as in foundries, sand blasting, and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations in the oil and gas industry.

To read the Adverse effects of Crystalline Silica Exposure click here:

Crystalline Silica Rulemaking-OSHA

Inhalation of very small (respirable) crystalline silica particles puts workers at risk for silicosis, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and kidney disease. OSHA recently released a proposed rule to protect workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica.

This is a proposal, not a final rule. OSHA encourages the public to participate in development of the rule by submitting comments and participating in public hearings. Your input will help OSHA develop a rule that ensures healthy working conditions for employees and is feasible for employers.

"Exposure to silica can be deadly, and limiting that exposure is essential. Every year, many exposed workers not only lose their ability to work, but also to breathe. This proposal is expected to prevent thousands of deaths from silicosis - an incurable and progressive disease - as well as lung cancer, other respiratory diseases, and kidney disease. Workers affected by silica are fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers lost to entirely preventable illnesses. We're looking forward to public comment on the proposal."

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