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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
February 23, 2016

Petroleum Workers’ Hydrocarbon Risk

JAMA. 2016;315(8):743. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.0804

An occupational medicine physician’s 2013 investigation into the death of a 21-year-old oil and gas worker triggered a closer look at the hazards workers face when they open hydrocarbon storage tank hatches.

The physician, from the University of California, San Francisco, contacted CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after identifying another, similar death.

Both deaths initially were attributed to cardiovascular disease, but the first fatality later was reclassified as exposure to hydrocarbons. Working together, the physician and experts from NIOSH and OSHA identified 7 more men who died after working above an open hatch of a hydrocarbon storage tank.

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