The identification and management of business risk is vital for any competitive business, and critically relevant for the oil and gas exploration and production industry because of the catastrophic implications of inadequate risk management.

While companies operating in these environments are well versed in emergency preparedness and response, toxic-gas- release incidents can be exacerbated because of deficiencies in plans or preparedness, highlighting the need for vigilance and advanced expertise in some key areas, some of which are discussed here. A key element of risk assessment and planning is a quality occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS).


During a toxic gas release event, timely information and guidance is a critical component in managing ensuing events. Companies must gather and provide timely information so they can quickly determine:

  • Safe zones for workers and responders during an event

  • Impact to offsite and surrounding community

To get air monitoring results that allow for establishing timely safe zones and understanding offsite impacts, a sound methodology must be established that ensures all hazards and obstacles have been addressed. Potential hazards and their chemical constituents should be identified proactively, insuring that proper sampling guidelines and media are available when an incident occurs. Hazard assessment and emergency response plans (ERP) must cover the specific risk an operator may face, both onsite and offsite, and is crucial in addressing the risk in a timely and economic manner. Establishing a baseline for pre-existing conditions and plume modeling should be key components of ERPs as well as cyclical and timely updating of those plans, from development through project implementation and completion, as conditions change.

Results, Observations, Conclusions

A basic protocol needs to be established that covers several key components, including: contamination assessment, direct reading instruments/real-time monitoring, NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) methodology/identification of local certified laboratories. Additionally, personnel must be properly trained and drilled to ensure they can swiftly and correctly execute these tasks in the event of an incident. This paper explores the various topics and assessments needed to insure a proper hazard assessment and ERP for toxic gas release incidents.

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