Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) is known as an insidious killer and goes by a number of unsavory names:sour gas, meadow gas, stink damp, Devil's Breath, and sulfureated hydrogen. It is a colorless gas that can be routinely found around decaying organic material and in some oil and gas operations. It smells like rotten eggs at extremely low concentrations, but it quickly, though temporarily, kills the sense of smell at higher concentrations. (This property gives a false sense of security to the unsuspecting.) H2S is a highly-hazardous gas which rapidly renders its unfortunate victims unconscious, paralyzes the respiratory system, and then causes death in a matter of just a few minutes. However you can work safely in H2S environments if you are properly trained, utilize appropriate engineering precautions, and are equipped with the proper personal protective equipment.
In the mid 1980s, several concerned safety professionals working in oil and gas operations in the Permian Basin area of west Texas gathered to discuss the consequences of some recent H2S accidents that had occurred within their industry. As their discussions delved deeper into the root causes of these incidents, it became apparent that there were serious deficiencies in the content and conduct of the numerous H2S training programs that were being conducted at that time.
A cursory examination of the proffered sessions at that time revealed that the required H2S certificate could be obtained upon completion of a class which ranged from 15 minutes to up to 4 hours. The length of the course seemed to depend on the experience and professional integrity of the instructor, as well as the particular course curriculum. Not only did the course content vary radically from one organization to another, but it was even possible to purchase a training certificate without actually attending any of the training activities…providing you were willing and able to pay the asking price! As a result of their findings, one early goal of these safety pioneers was to establish an exemplary process to thoroughly prepare the instructors that were conducting this critical training.
The next logical step for this group was to brainstorm a curriculum for their visionary hydrogen sulfide safety training course. They examined literally dozens of industry-accepted H2S certification training programs, past and present, to determine what criteria was relevant and critical to their project. They then compared those critical issues to the investigative results of numerous H2S accidents. They needed to insure that proper training on those issues would have a irect bearing on the probable prevention of similar incidents.
Finally they knew that they had the correct training concept, but how could they insure the transfer of this information to the many hydrogen sulfide safety instructors? And how could they insure that those instructors possessed the proper technical knowledge and training skills to adequately conduct the training? It soon became apparent that another critical piece of this puzzle would have to be the creation of a comprehensive H2S safety training instructor development course.