Many workers in Pennsylvania must deal with exposure to diesel exhaust. To help address the dangers of diesel exhaust exposure, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has published a fact sheet for employees in the oil and gas industry.
For starters, it’s important to understand that short-term exposure to diesel exhaust can cause headaches and dizziness as well as eye, nose and throat irritation. Prolonged exposure increases the risk for cancer as well as heart and lung disease.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration currently has no set standard regarding concentration levels of diesel particulate matter (DPM) despite having standards for other gases such as carbon monoxide. However, OSHA encourages monitoring of diesel exhaust levels to reduce the potential for exposure. The Mine Safety and Health Administration division of the Department of Labor does enforce DPM standards for work in underground mines.
Employers can help keep workers safe from diesel gas exposure by regularly monitoring and servicing diesel engines and using special fuels or additives. Ventilation systems should be installed in areas where exposure to concentrated levels of DPM is likely. A combination of preventative measures may work best.
Workers can reduce exposure to DPM by preventing engines from idling and minimizing equipment traffic congestion. Managers and administrators can designate areas where diesel engine operation is not allowed and restrict the number of diesel-powered equipment in a given area.
Employees who are suffering from work-related injuries or illnesses may be eligible to file for workers’ compensation. However, insurance companies may allege that an injury or illness is not truly work-related. This is common for ailments that can take a long time to develop, such as lung disease caused by diesel exhaust exposure. An attorney could help a claimant prove that they are entitled to workers’ compensation by providing evidence such as medical records and witness statements.