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What Types of Oilfield Jobs can Lead to Accidents and Injuries?


Every drilling site is manned by several crews, each composed of several different types of workers depending on the site and the type of rig.

Roustabouts, floorhands, or roughnecks perform much of the basic, labor-intensive maintenance and drilling tasks. These workers maintain and keep the drilling area clean, remove hazards, and move equipment around the rig for other workers to use. A lot of the grunt work required at an oil rig is taken care of by roustabouts so the other workers can extract oil efficiently.

A motorhand or motorman is responsible for maintaining the engines that power the drilling equipment and other machinery at the drilling site. Oil rigs may have diesel engines, electric engines, or both. These workers also supervise roustabouts, test equipment for safety, operate with the oil rig boilers, assist with the drill pipe, and help other crew members as needed.

Derrickhands, derrickmen or derrick operators guide the uppermost section of the drill as it is lowered and raised from the well bore, known as tripping. These employees are often stationed on a platform high above the ground above the rig in order to head the tripping process. Derrickhands also assist with the mixing and operation of the mud system, helping drillers, and various upkeep on drilling equipment.

A rig operator or driller supervises crew members of an oil rig, specializing in resolving or troubleshooting problems if they arise. They also monitor the work area for safety issues and maintains safety policies. Drillers are tasked with training crew members on safety procedures, conducting drills for blowout prevention, performing equipment maintenance checks, and other personnel-focused management. These oil workers are often assisting with the operation of drill controls and other equipment.

A toolpusher, or oil rig manager, is the supervisor of the oil rig and responsible for all other personnel on site. These managers oversee drillers, derrickhands, motorhands, and roustabouts and provide leadership, important training, and problem solving in regards to employees and oil rig operation. Toolpushers manage the installation of rigs, make sure government and environmental laws are followed, and coordinate the workers in several crews.

Other oilfield occupations include petroleum engineers, pipeline walkers, pipefitters, and pipelayers.

Due to the nature of the job, every worker involved on the oilfield at some point or another could be involved in an incident, depending upon what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. Supervisors and even owners of facilities can be seriously injured or lose their life, depending upon who’s on that property, who’s conducting work, and whether it’s being done safely. When drilling operations are being done unsafely and outside the prescribed safety regulations, workers are put at a grave risk of injury or worse.

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