TUC shale gas briefing: Fracking and workers’ health and safety issues
Many of the safety issues relating to hydraulic fracking for shale gas are the same as for any gas extraction. However there are key differences, for example, in the UK, most gas extraction has been off-shore while it is likely that most fracking will be on land. This briefing note considers a range of worker safety issues, including:
- The main safety hazards that fracking workers regularly encounter.
- Exposure to silica - large quantities of silica sand are used during hydraulic fracturing.
- Public Safety and Health issues, including the “catastrophic” risk from explosions at the plant or during transportation; and the potential for methane and by-products from fracking to contaminate water supplies.
- Regulation and enforcement.
- Worker involvement: for the TUC, one of the most crucial ways of ensuring safety is to have strong unions and safety representative involvement in all aspects of health and safety in the emerging fracking industry.