Mining accidents often involve injuries caused by exposure to hydrogen sulphide. Miners are, however, not the only ones at risk of work injuries by hydrogen sulphide, as exposure may affect anyone who works in confined spaces like pits, tunnels, manholes and wells, low-lying or windless areas, marshy landscapes and industries involving:
- Agricultural silos or pits.
- Food processing.
- Hot asphalt paving.
- Petroleum and natural gas production or refining.
- Pulp and paper processing.
- Sewer and waste-water treatment.
- Textile manufacturing.
In essence, any work in places likely to involve the release or build-up of hydrogen sulphide puts workers at risk of work-related injuries.
Hydrogen sulphide and accidents at work
Hydrogen sulphide is a poisonous gas produced naturally during the decay of organic matter. It has a smell reminiscent of bad eggs and may be released from pockets of natural gas, sulphur hot springs, liquid manure or sewage sludge. This gas is also a by-product of industrial processes, and is also known as:
- Sulphur hydride.
- Sulphurated or sulphureted hydrogen.
- Stink damp.
- Sewer gas.
- Hydrosulphuric acid.
- Hydrogen sulphuric acid.
- Hepatic gas.
- Dihydrogen sulphide.
- Dihydrogen mono-sulphide.
High temperatures speed up the decay of varying organic materials and subsequently increase the concentration and pressure of the gas. In some cases, workplace injuries are caused by exposure to suddenly released large concentrations of hydrogen sulphide. In other cases, concentrations may be lower, but exposure continues over prolonged periods.
Effects of hydrogen sulphide exposure
Depending on the concentration of hydrogen sulphide and the duration of exposure, the effects on workers injured at work may consist of:
- Bronchial constriction (particularly in asthmatic individuals).
- Eye irritations/complaints.
- Increased concentration of blood lactate.
- Decreased oxygen uptake.
- Decreased activity of skeletal muscle citrate synthase.
- Loss of appetite.
- Poor memory.
- Respiratory distress.
- Olfactory paralysis.
Exposure to extremely high concentrations of hydrogen sulphide is fatal.
If you suffered an industrial industry due to exposure to this gas during the past three years through no fault of your own, call Accident Advice Helpline on 0800 689 0500 to find out if you qualify for work injury compensation. The friendly advisers of this law firm will keep calls confidential and experienced lawyers specialising in compensation claims are made available to claimants under conditional fee agreements (no win no fee*).
Date Published: February 12, 2014
Author: David Brown