Oil Rig Operations
Oil rigs operate 24 hours a day, and are usually crewed by 3 or 4 teams who trade off shifts. Each team is comprised of a Rig Manager, Driller, Derrickhand, Motorhand, and Several Roughnecks and Rustabouts. Work is performed in shifts usually 12 hours on, 12 hours off. Fatigue, and the extreme conditions often lead to injuries.
Oil rig operations are considered high risk work. Examples of dangers include high falls, burns, back injury, fingers arms and legs getting caught in spinning machinery, exposure to extreme temperatures, chemicals, and gases, and explosions. Sadly one of the most common types of accidents occurs when a floor opening is removed and unattended, often it is the same person who removed the opening that later forgets about it and falls through when passing at a later time. Hydrogen Sulfide, or sour gas, is a highly combustible gas found around oil drilling operations which can cause loss of consciousness within seconds of exposure. Pulling a lever for too long might mean dropping heavy machinery on co-workers above.
With theses ever-present danger it is a wonder anyone could make it off an oil rig alive. Even if an injury doesn’t result in death it is usually seriously debilitating, and may prevent workers from returning to work, or even earning a living in other industries. However, with the right precautions, and quality management some oil rigs are able to operate nearly accident free. Many of the duties of roughnecks, and rustabouts include keeping the worksite clean and clear of hazards, and performing maintenance as simple as removing rust, which could prevent catastrophic mechanical failures. Ultimately the Rig Manager, and Driller are responsible to insure their crews are properly trained, and aware of the hazards present, and to enforce proper employment of safety measures. One company has had success using video games in training. The idea is that a worker who loses an arm or two in a virtual world will be more prepared to make the right decisions in the real world.
When Injuries do Occur
About the Author: Bob Jent is the CEO of Western Pipeline Corporation. Western Pipeline Corp is a successful, private independent producer of oil and natural gas.