5 Safety Tips for Oil Rig Workers

Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

If you’re simply looking for job security, predictability, and decent pay, then a 9-to-5-cubicle job will suffice. But if you want something more from your career, you must look beyond the normal scope of labor and consider doing something with greater potential. One such option is a career as an oil rig technician.

5 Safety Tips to Keep in Mind

Working on an oil rig is demanding, but it can be both lucrative and flexible. While the job often requires workers to be offshore for grueling 14-day stretches, these shifts are typically followed by one- to three-week breaks. For those who are willing to work hard and do what it takes to move up, pay can reach the six-figure range fairly quickly.

However, if there’s one down side to working on an oil rig, it’s the risk of injury or death. From 2003 to 2010, 823 oil and gas industry workers were killed on the job. This figure was seven-times higher than the national average for other industries over the same period. Thousands more were injured on an annual basis. And with the confusion surrounding maritime law and injury claims, health challenges can quickly evolve into financial challenges.

If you can find a way to reduce some of the safety risks that stem from being an oil rig worker, pursuing a career in this field can be highly lucrative and rewarding. Here are a few tips:

1. Wear Fall Protection Equipment

A large percentage of oil and gas industry fatalities are the direct result of falls from height. Common causes include unprotected sides and edges, slips and trips, improper ladder use, improper use of fall arrest systems, and unstable working surfaces.

Derrickhands – or those working at the very top of a drilling rig – face the greatest risk. The best way to compensate for the threat of falling is to learn how to properly use the anchor, body harness, and connectors when climbing up and down.

2. Avoid Struck By Hazards

Struck by hazards are one of the top killers of oilfield workers. They frequently occur when tools and other objects aren’t properly secured and are allowed to fall from heights to lower levels.

“Struck by hazards can also result from moving vehicles or equipment, falling equipment, and high-pressure lines,” Rocky Mountain Industrial Supply explains. “Take this into consideration when getting to and from an oil rig. Often times, heavy equipment is operating nearby and can present many dangerous risks.”

3. Prevent Fires

Any time you’re working in close proximity to oil, gas, and other flammable substances, there will a fire risk. The more aware you are of the risks you face, the smarter you can be in your decision making.

Smoking is absolutely against the rules and you should know exactly where spark arrestors are for internal-combustion engines. Any spark-producing equipment should be properly located and avoided.

4. Get Enough Sleep

One of the best things you can do to reduce your risk of injury is to get adequate rest. When you’re working for 14 straight 8-16-hour workdays, sleep comes at a premium. Prioritize it, or chronic fatigue will put you at a greater risk of making mistakes. Light sleepers, or those with underlying sleep conditions, can benefit from implementing a nighttime routine.

5. Look Out for Coworkers

When you’re working on an oil rig, you’re only as safe as who you have around you. If you notice people doing things that are unsafe, speak up. There must be a culture of safety and accountability in order for everyone to return to shore as healthy as when they left. Make sure you’re doing your part in making this happen. If you have concerns, speak with management to rein in irresponsible behavior.

Adding it All Up

There’s no guarantee of safety on an oil rig. The very nature of the work means oil rig workers are constantly at risk of injury or death. However, common sense suggests that you can significantly reduce your chances of being hurt by heeding the aforementioned advice. In doing so, you may finally be able to realize your full career potential while having time to enjoy your personal life.