This paper describes the occupational health programme used to ensure that NAM and contractor personnel of the Nederlandse Aardolie Mij (NAM) exposed to mercury, common in Dutch gas, are adequately protected through the correct use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), proper instruction and suitable work procedures.

To avoid health damage due to mercury exposure during maintenance and shutdown activities the occupational health department of NAM set up a programme covering 3 activities:

  • monitoring of atmospheric air; sampling of inspired air during work, and measurement of mercury excretion in urine of workers

  • instruction of company and contractor personnel

  • consultancy during preparation of work instructions

The monitoring programme showed that, through correct use of PPE, staff do not exhibit mercury concentration levels exceeding the human toxicity limit (100 ug/g creatinine) even after exposure to mercury vapour concentrations above the TLV of 0,05 mg/m3.

The correct use of PPE is a result of the instruction programme which also promotes increased awareness for personnel of the harmful effects of mercury.

Finally, the provision of consultancy during the preparation of work instructions has contributed to various measures; for instance, staff wearing plastic (Viton) protective suits may not work longer than 2 hours continuously to avoid heat exhaustion.

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