Recognition of the importance of occupational health programs has been consistently increasing in the oil and gas industry over the last decade. Nonetheless, the author believes that practical occupational health projects are still to gain relevance compared to safety and environmental processes.

Cementing is one of the most established services in the oilfield industry, and cement workers are exposed to cement dust, especially during the mixing stages. In most cement bulk plants, during the mixing process the worker has to lift cement bags and, after cutting the bag, mix the cement with different chemicals such as hematite (iron base), barite (clay base), silica flour (silicate base) and other additives used to provide the particular mix required to meet the technical specifications of the well to be cemented. The process can produce heavy dust that could go deep into the respiratory tract, potentially causing various kinds of health concerns if the risk is not properly understood and managed. Associated health concerns could include health concerns such as hypersensitivity or pneumoconiosis. The issue therefore warrants investigation into the effectiveness of control measures such as engineering solutions to eliminate the risk (e.g. automatic loading), reduce exposure (e.g. ventilation fans), and mitigate the effects with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks.

This paper will show a practical project—implemented in an oilfield services facility that provides cementing services to offshore operations—to scientifically assess the levels of exposure of workers and determine the efficiency of different types of risk control measures. The paper describes how to conduct air sampling and analysis to compare with standard work exposure limits (WELs), and set proper control measures.

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