Oil drilling is a complex process that requires many different types of workers in order to run smoothly and safely. One thing that each of these oil extraction occupations have in common is the inherent risk of injury due to an accident. Every person that is involved in the process at some point or another could be involved in an oilfield accident. Oilfield jobs are considered one of the more dangerous occupations in the country.
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. Below is a list of the types of oilfield jobs with the most work-related accidents.
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 wellbore, 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 types of oilfield jobs 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.
Common Oilfield Work Accidents
Workers on an oilfield are exposed to a wide variety of hazards. Some common examples of oilfield accidents include:
- Oil well blowouts
- Explosions and fires
- Transportation accidents involving the transport of workers to and from the field
- Slips and falls due to slick surfaces
- Struck/caught in machinery or equipment
- Exposure to harmful chemicals or other materials
- Defective, faulty, or poorly maintained drilling equipment and machinery
These accidents can cause life-altering and debilitating injuries, including burns, brain injuries, broken bones, spinal cord and back injuries, eye injuries. Unfortunately, the oil and gas extraction industry is no stranger to fatal injuries as well — 120 workers were killed on the job in 2015. The mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction industry as a whole had the third largest fatal work injury rate in the United States in 2015.
Contact an Experienced Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one have been injured in an oilfield accident, you need an attorney with the experience and legal resources necessary to win your case. Thomas J. Henry has handled many oilfield and oil rig accident cases over the past 25 years. Our attorneys are available 24/7, nights and weekends to evaluate your claim and provide you with a free case review. We will take immediate action on your case and begin investigating the cause of your injury and that party responsible. You deserve compensation for your serious oilfield injuries. Contact our law offices today.