A fact sheet published by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health lists diesel exhaust exposure as a hazard faced by oil and gas extraction workers in Pennsylvania and all over the U.S. Diesel engines are common in many different industries; they are found in earth-moving equipment, trucks, generators, compressors and other equipment. According to NIOSH, a research paper on the subject found that every worker in oil and gas is potentially subject to harm caused by diesel exhaust.

Diesel exhaust carries diesel particulate matter. Even short-term exposure to diesel particulate matter in high concentrations can lead to dizziness, headaches or severe irritation of the nose, throat or eyes. The irritation can be serious enough that workers are unable to work. Exposure to diesel particulate matter over the long term can increase the worker’s risk of lung cancer, cardiopulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has not released standards to deal directly with diesel particulate matter, though standards exist for some components of it. Nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitric oxide are all present in diesel particulate matter, and OSHA has established permissible exposure limits for each of these gases. The Mine Safety and Health Administration, a division of the Department of Labor, has developed standards for diesel particulate matter.

Workers who are injured on the job in Pennsylvania might have claims for compensation via the state’s workers’ compensation system. Typically, a worker is not required to demonstrate that the employer has done anything wrong in order to recover; rather, workers’ comp is paid out if the worker has suffered a compensable injury at work. A lawyer with experience in workers’ comp cases might be able to help injured workers by gathering evidence and putting together a claim or by communicating with government officials on the client’s behalf.