Breathing Air Systems

Which breathing air systems should your oilfield workers have access to?

A breathing air system allows for breathable air to be administered to a worker in a setting where there is inadequate air quality. The components of the system include an air source, a compressor, air distributors and respirators. Workers face all kinds of respiratory risks in oilfields. These might include those resulting from exposure to hydrogen sulfide (H2S), benzene, butane and methane, to name a few. Long-term exposure or high exposure to these gases can spur illness and death for those who are not adequately protected on the job.

The right breathing air system can help protect your oilfield workers from injury or death. It can also help protect your company from potential liability issues. OSHA requires that employers “provide a respirator that is adequate to protect the health of the employee and ensure compliance with all other OSHA statutory and regulatory requirements, under routine and reasonably foreseeable emergency situations.”

What are some of the types of breathing air systems oilfield workers should have access to?

  • Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) — This system provides air to wearers through an air source that is worn by the wearer. It involves a compressed air tank typically being worn on the back, like those worn by divers and firefighters. SCBA systems allow workers to move around more freely when performing tasks. However, they do provide a limited supply of air. 
  • Airline respirator (and stationary air source) — Airline respirators are systems that must be connected to a stationary, compressed air source through a hose. That air is delivered directly to the wearer through a hose. Although this system is more restrictive to movement than other options, it has the benefit of providing a continuous and inexhaustible air supply.
  • Full face respirators — This type of respirator is a large mask that fits over the wearer’s entire face. It provides added protection to the eyes, nose, mouth, and chin and requires filters or cartridges. Full face respirators allow workers the greatest freedom of movement compared to SCBAs or airline respirators; however, their cartridges tend to have a limited life span. They also merely filter the air around the worker rather than using a self-contained clean air supply, which may not be appropriate for all oilfield tasks. 

Basin Safety can help ensure that your oilfield workers have access to the right breathing air systems

Basin Safety could be a great fit for your business, if you’re looking for professional assistance in mitigating risk of injury liability and addressing employee safety. If you’re an oil company safety executive or manager, be sure to check out our SCBA training program and Breathing Air Systems Management service. We’re committed to helping companies build a list of their own safety goals and helping them achieve those goals. We also believe in the power of safety metrics, providing adaptive training, promoting safety culture and supporting our customers’ vision.

Contact us today to speak with one of our consultants about all our safety and compliance services.

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