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OHSI Conference Report – Competence During Oil Spills by Verde’s Gary Canny

OHSI Conference Report – Competence During Oil Spills by Verde’s Gary Canny

This year’s Occupational Hygiene Society of Ireland (OHSI) conference brought together experts in the area of asbestos, carcinogens, chemicals, and oil spill remediations, with energised discussions from experienced panel speakers on air quality and emerging risks.

Over ninety attendees, made up of occupational hygiene practitioners, scientists, professionals from the public and private sector, as well as academia and students, gathered at the Limerick Strand Hotel on the 29th and 30th of March, to hear from a line-up of experienced andhigh-calibre speakers.

You can read the Conference Report here in the May ’23 edition of Health and Safety Review Magazine 

Verde’s Dr. Gary Canny presented on “Oil Spill Investigation and Remediation – Ensuring worker protection, monitoring exposure to hydrocarbons and setting suitable guidance values”, as described in the Conference report below:

Competence during oil spills

On a very different topic, the final speaker of the day was Dr. Gary Canny, technical manager with Verde Remediation Services. His talk centred on dealing with international oil spill incidents, to more local smaller-scale oil spills, all of which require ensuring worker protection.
Starting off on a practical note, he outlined some of the reasons why oil spills happen, including failures in flexi hoses, tanks leaking, fires, or natural phenomenon such as flooding and high winds, all of which can lead to an expensive investigation and clean-up process for the
domestic or commercial property owner.

When there’s an oil leak, it’s important to “know what you’re dealing with”, he said. “Breathing kerosene or diesel vapour or drinking kerosene-based liquids can cause dizziness, headaches and vomiting”, he added. Discussing some of the protective measures for workers during oil spill remediation work, he outlined the different types of protective overalls needed, as well as respiratory protection and hand protection.

“When there’s an oil leak, it’s important to know what you’re dealing with”

Focusing in on the issues around monitoring exposure to hydrocarbons using Photo Ionisation Detection (PID) equipment, he explained that it was essential that  the person using the PID, or similar devices, had the competence to correctly interpret the results. The issue he said, was “some household products can also give VOC readings on PID devices, including washing up liquid, air fresheners and fire lighters”.

Concluding his talk, he raised the issue about the lack of occupational exposure limit values (OELVs) for adults and children in domestic situations, school environments and any other situation where there could be 24/7 exposure to an oil spill, and where the application of
workplace OELVs were unsuitable. He discussed how the use of recognised and published toxicological data, such as Tolerable Data Intake (TDI), inhalation rates, and body weights, can help one derive suitable guidance values for site-specific scenarios.