Hydrogen Sulfide

1. Purpose 

a) The purpose of this program is to reduce employee exposure to hydrogen sulfide (H2S) to below the Permissible Exposure Limit by means of engineering and work practice controls. 

b) ESCO Group works to ensure that employees are not exposed to hydrogen sulfide above OSHA exposure limits at any time. 

2. Introduction

a) Hydrogen sulfide, or H2S, is a colorless, flammable gas that has a distinctive “rotten egg” odor. It is also referred to as dihydrogen sulfide, sulfur hydride, sewer gas and stink damp. The physical characteristics of hydrogen sulfide gas include: 

Color:                 Colorless
Odor:                “Rotten eggs” (detectable at 10 ppm)
Toxicity:                 Highly toxic
Flammability:         Flammable
Solubility:         0.4%
Incompatibilities: Strong oxidizers, strong nitric acid, metals

b) Hydrogen sulfide is produced naturally by decaying organic matter, released from liquid manure and natural gas, waste water treatment facilities, as a byproduct of industrial processes including petroleum refining, mining, tanning, wood pulp processing, and used to produce elemental sulfur, sulfuric acid, and heavy water for nuclear reactors. 

c) Hydrogen sulfide can affect the body by inhalation, ingestion, and contact with the body.  The effects may range from irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat to temporary loss of smell. Headaches, dizziness, and upset stomach are more intense symptoms caused by higher concentrations. Inhalation of high concentrations of H2S may cause instant paralysis of the respiratory system causing loss of consciousness and death. In concentrations of H2S at 1000 to 2000 ppm even a single breath may cause coma and may be fatal. Because of its extremely serious and fatal potential, any employee believed to be exposed to H2S shall immediately notify the Supervisor or Project Manager. 

3. Hazard Evaluation 

a) Monitoring for airborne concentrations of hydrogen sulfide is conducted by using a four-gas meter or a single-gas H2S monitor. ESCO group H2S gas meters will be set to alarm at 10 ppm when H2S is 

b) OSHA Permissible Exposure Limits:

i. 1910 General Industry 20ppm 

ii. 1926 Construction 10 ppm 

4. Hazard Control 

a) Employees will not work in areas with airborne concentrations above OSHA Permissible Exposure Limits. 

b) If circumstances require an exception to the above, NIOSH approved self-contained breathing apparatus or air-supplied respirators will be used. 

c) In confined spaces, hydrogen sulfide hazards will be controlled by but are not limited to dilution ventilation, and forced air ventilation 

d) Whenever the gas monitor alarms leave the area immediately to a fresh air and do not reenter until conditions are proven safe or appropriate respiratory protection is donned. 

e) Upon commencing operations at a work site, obtain, know and understand the facility’s contingency plan for H2s/hydrogen sulfide exposure. 

5. Training 

a) We provide our workers with regulatory training that includes requirements of the substance specific requirements and:

i. Communication of the hazards 

ii. Health effects 

iii. Routes of exposure 

iv. Engineering controls 

v. H2S monitoring 

b) Training will be documented and kept on file for a minimum of 5 years. 

6. Record keeping 

a) We know record keeping is critical to our safety and health program. Our record keeping tasks, at a minimum, include: 

i. Exposure monitoring data - 30 Years 

ii. Medical surveillance data - Duration of employment plus 30 years