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NIOSH is investigating fracking-related safety risks for workers

Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is occurring in numerous states across the country. New York legislators have yet to determine whether high-volume fracking will be allowed within the state’s borders. However, companies are currently engaging in fracking from Pennsylvania to Montana.

As New York considers whether or not to allow fracking, it is important to consider all relevant information available about the practice, the effects it has on the environment and the risks it poses to workers operating on fracking sites. For example, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently began an investigation into fracking risks after it learned that numerous workers on fracking sites have died as a result of workplace accidents and occupational illness.

The NIOSH and its parent agency the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are currently studying the exposure risks that workers on fracking sites face. In addition to dangerous accidents on-site, fracking workers may risk exposure to volatile hydrocarbons released during the drilling process.

Many individuals and organizations want fracking to be approved in New York because fracking operations nationwide are helping the U.S. to achieve record levels of gas and oil production. However, the risks that workers are exposed to on fracking jobsites may outweigh the benefits of this process.

When workers are exposed to volatile hydrocarbons during the drilling process, the compounds can cause workers to develop an irregular heartbeat and can affect the lungs, eyes and nervous system. It is critically important that all New York lawmakers and concerned citizens consider these effects carefully before voting to approve or reject fracking-related proposals.

Source: Insurance Journal, “Safety Agency to Probe Fracking Risks After Deaths of 4 Workers,” Jim Efstathiou Jr., May 20, 2014

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