Column: Quantitative Risk Assessment of Toxic Gas Hazards
Personal protective equipment (PPE) such as self-contained breathing apparatus, protective clothing, safety glasses, boots, and gloves are widely used in today’s oil and gas industry. Temporary refuge shelters as well as fresh air supply systems are normally recommended when the presence of highly toxic gases is possible.
The question is how to avoid a large number of fatalities or serious injuries in the case of undesired toxic gas release or toxic liquid spill and how deeply should one look into the safety equipment and systems? With companies in the oil and gas industry operating globally, they are always worried about their reputations because huge markets could be lost. Companies, therefore, are concerned about the health of employees, the effect of their business on the environment, the capital investment from one side, and the amount of money they will need to invest in order to practically and reasonably avoid a catastrophic release of toxic substances.
Some may believe the greater the investment in safety, the safer the industry will be. While this may be common sense, history shows this is not true. This article shows a risk-based methodology to try to find an optimized solution, which takes into consideration the reasonable amount of investment required for safety in the industry, to avoid the occurrence of a major accident hazard (MAH). This is done by identifying components that contribute to these hazards, as well as suggesting methods to either eliminate these components or provide recommendations that make the risks tolerable.