Free Essay. Health Safety and Environment

Published: 2023-02-22
Free Essay. Health Safety and Environment
Type of paper:  Report
Categories:  Ecology Healthcare Pollution Climate change
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1303 words
11 min read

This study addresses the HSE (Health, Safety, and Environment) issues involved with Hydraulic Fracturing and the gas field. Hydraulic fracking is the process of drilling the earth's surface cracking rock formations in order to access natural gas and oil deposits. The fracking process requires heavy equipment as well as careful planning for effectiveness. Oil and gas extraction is a vital process that has raised concerns on the methods and technologies used, the risks involved, and the health impact assessments. According to Musick (2014), OSHA established that the oil and gas industry had seen the death of 823 workers from 2003 to 2010. Also, he established the fatality rate of workers working in the oil and gas industries was about seven times greater than industries. Hazards affecting workers in the oil and gas industries include; vehicle crashes, fires, and explosions falls, confined spaces, and chemical exposures. In order to effectively protect the environment, there must be properly designed and constructed health and safety regulations to prevent harm, such as the release of unplanned fluids. The following are factors operating in the gas field as well as the fracking process;

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Effects on Ground Water

The extraction of natural gas and oil deposits on the surfaces of the earth risks the contamination of Groundwater with hazardous substances (CIWEM,2016). This may be caused by a catastrophic failure of the wellbore or if methane travel through subsurface pathways from target fractures. Additionally, the returned water may affect the environment is not adequately treated. Conversely, the chemical used in the process is not disclosed, raising concerns on the use of hazardous pollutants.

According to CIWEM (2016) research, the failure of cement surrounding the wellbore would be the most likely pathway that may cause contamination of Groundwater. Although the application of Regulations, for instance, EA's groundwater guidancexxiii, has ensured the safety of all wells established with the aim of extraction of petroleum, whether offshore or onshore (CIWEM,2016). The regulations establish that there can be no escape of fluids from the well as well as the operations should not take place near the ground. Additionally, all wells should be monitored using Seismic monitoring to access any potential impact on its integrity. The returned water must be contained appropriately, managed, and treated before disposal to prevent environmental pollution.


Fracturing causes low-magnitude earthquakes that go unnoticed easily. Conversely, the risk due to earthquakes is low, and they are highly unlikely to cause structural damage. However, in places like the UK, fracturing may cause larger earthquakes because of the rock's tensile strength (CIWEM,2016).

In order to mitigate the earthquake risk, information on seismic rocks and faults should be obtained effectively. A prior review and seismic monitoring should be carried out before and after the fracturing process (CIWEM,2016). Moreover, operators should implement a traffic light system for monitoring and act in case of unusual seismic activity.

Air Pollution

Gas emissions during the drilling and operations of shale gas wells may significantly pollute the air. Additionally, the on-site number of diesel-powered engines is usually high. The involved methods of extraction, the scale, and chemicals used in extraction, as well as the huge amount of water used, may lead to exposure to unconventional gas extracted (UGE). These emissions can form the ozone combined with other emissions, such as anthropogenic and natural emissions. Conversely, these can lead to a high concentration of ozone near the ground, which can cause damage to vegetation and adverse effects on human health. There are few studies elaborating the effects of fracturing on air pollution. In order to mitigate this risk, studies should be carried out to give insight into the possible danger and harm of gas emission from the fracturing process. Although according to CIWEM (2016) research, the fracturing process is less risky if its operations are properly run and regulated.

The process of extraction of gasses and fracking is additionally categorized as risky because some of the technologies and materials used are new and untested. Additionally, some of the materials lack a risk or safety profile (CIWEM,2016). Conversely, a proper health impact on humans and the environment of these technologies is still unknown. Hence, this field requires additional research to give insight into its dangers and harm to health and the environment.

Climate change consideration

Natural gas plays a key role in society, such as the generation of electricity and is used in domestic use such as heating and cooking. The modern world uses 80 percent of domestic heat from gas (CIWEM, 2016). Conversely, shale gas is a carbon fuel, and it makes it hard to achieve global climate change commitments due to its widespread use.

According to CIWEM (2016) research, gas will continue to play significant roles globally, especially in heating. In order to mitigate the risks involved in climate change, global commitment and policies should be established to check the cumulative effects caused by the use of natural gas. Additionally, renewable sources such as solar, wind, biomass, tidal, and wave power should be used as an alternative to reduce the use of shale gas.

Fugitive emissions

Greenhouse gas footprint involves the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) directly through consumption and indirectly from fossil fuels used in the extraction, development, transportation of methane (CH4) emissions, and venting. CIWEM (2016) establishes the possible release of methane during several steps of gas production, conversely polluting the environment. Fugitive emissions raise high concerns because methane causes high global warming when released estimated to be 25 more than CO2 over a hundred years (CIWEM,2016).

The assessment of an area prior to drilling is very important in order to establish the background levels of methane. Additionally, monitoring should be carried out to ensure the detection of leaks during drilling as well as aftercare maintenance of wells for efficiency.

Planning and Amenity

Planning is a key step in the creation of wells. Planning ensures the new developments are appropriate in the new location and accesses the possible effect on health and environmental pollution. Shale gas formations cover an extensive area and use approximately 3. Hectares per pad during the fracturing and completion phases (CIWEM,2016). These calls for extensive gas fields, and upon abandonment of the well, the site may not fully restore its agricultural or natural value. Multiple installations may significantly lead to the loss of valuable natural habitats as well as farmlands in the process. Extraction impact the local surrounding negatively. Activities such as moving rigs, trucking, and fluids impact the local environment.

The planning and design of wells should be carefully assessed for the efficient construction of wells. Prior exploration should take place to ensure adequate information on the area is available as well as information on amenity. Amenity need not be destroyed for fuel development.


As established in the context, the best approach to mitigate risks related to the gas field and the fracking process is risk assessment. This involves examining industrial processes, engineering hazards, and chemicals. However, these fields involve a variety of metrics and methods, resulting in incomplete risk assessments by bodies such as governments. Additionally, proper planning and design of a well should be well elaborated to prevent unplanned occurrences. The assessment should outline the employee's safety and protection from harmful substances used in the process. The context establishes that the gas field and the fracking process cause low harm and risks to the environment if adequately planned and assessed. However, the process, as well as the products such as gas, significantly affect the environment; hence, the need for renewable sources such as wind and solar that don't pollute the environment.


Hydraulic-fracturing-of-Shale-in-the-UK.pdf. (2016). Retrieved from CIWEB website:


Musick, T. (2014). "Fracking" and worker safety | December 2014 | Safety+Health Magazine. Retrieved October 6, 2019, from

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