1.888.326.9244

Request Information

Oil Drilling Rig Maintenance Safety

Staying on top of drilling rig maintenance requirements improves safety by helping to prevent  premature equipment failure. Drilling equipment is subjected to stress, wear and vibration during operations. This contributes to an increased potential for equipment failure.  Periodic inspections and maintenance is required to ensure all equipment remains safe and functioning properly.

Not only is regular maintenance necessary for safety, safety precautions must be followed when doing oil rig maintenance work.  We'll look at a few oil rig maintenance areas, identify some of the common safety hazards, and provide suggestions for ways to prevent accidents.  Most of the following information comes from OSHA. You should ensure everyone working on an oil drilling rig is fully trained and knowledgeable about all applicable OSHA standards.

Maintenance Safety

Oil drilling equipment maintenance includes the following areas:

  • Derrick equipment
  • Rig floor
  • Drilling line
  • Wire rope
  • Mud circulating system
  • Generators and electrical systems
  • Drilling rig engines

Oil Drilling Rig Maintenance Safety – The Derrick

August 9, 2012

Dickinson Man Dies In Fall From Rig

From the Dickinson Press : A 52 year old Dickinson man died Monday following a fall at an oil field site outside of Killdeer in Dunn County.

"The report was that an employee fell from the drilling rig basket about 50 feet," said Eric Brooks, Bismarck Area OSHA Office assistant director.

The man had worked in the oil fields for over 30 years. He was employed by Big Sky Well Service.  Owner Charles Fulton said the Big Sky crews go through a lot of safety training, and there had not been a fatality in the 31 years the business has existed.

Regular and preventive maintenance in the derrick helps ensure continued smooth and safe operation of the derrick equipment.  The primary areas that require maintenance are lubricating the swivel, traveling block and crown block, and the replacement of swivel packing.

Potential hazards in derrick maintenance include falls, being struck by falling tools, and getting caught between equipment or other objects.  Safety practices that help prevent injuries and fatalities include:

  • Follow lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures. OSHA requires that a plan be in place for control of hazardous energy.  Don't take shortcuts. Always follow all LOTO procedures and verify equipment is de-energized and does not contain stored energy before working on that equipment.
  • To prevent injuries from halls use appropriate fall protection. OSHA requires that before work is performed there must be a hazard assessment. That assessment should have determine when and what type of fall protection is required.
  • To minimize the possibility of someone being struck by falling tools or equipment keep people away from any area where there is overhead work in progress. This is done by minimizing the number of people working on the rig floor. 
  • Use signs to warn people about overhead work and hazards.
  • Ensure that everyone is wearing protective equipment (PPE) such as a hard hat. Those working in the derrick should tie off tools to prevent them from falling.

Oil Drilling Rig Maintenance Safety - Rig Floor

Maintenance activities on the rig floor include inspecting, adjusting, and servicing equipment such as drawworks, rotary, catheads, tongs, air hoists and wire rope.

The potential hazards during maintenance on the rig floor include:

  • Slips, trips and falls
  • Becoming caught in chains or other moving equipment.
  • Fingers and hands being pinched in machine guards or covers.
  • Sprains and strains. 

Taking the following steps to prevent injuries and accidents on the rig floor:

  • Always be aware of hazards and the potential for an accident. Most accidents happen because people think an accident will not happen. Always have safety first in your thoughts and actions. Use safety signs to help people to keep safety first in their thoughts.
  • Know and follow the established lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures (see above).
  • Wear proper personal protective equipment (such as hard hats, work gloves, safety shoes, and eye protection).  All PPE should be properly maintained and fully functional.
  • Keep all work areas clean and clear of oil, tools, and debris. Keep all machinery free of leaks through regular preventive maintenance and repairs. Trips and falls happen when our feet encounter something unexpected.  Use signs to remind workers about proper housekeeping.
  • Use non-skid surfaces where appropriate. Get assistance when you need to move large, awkward or heavy equipment, supplies, guards or covers.

Oil Drilling Rig Maintenance Safety - Drilling Line

The drilling line is the steel wire rope reeved through the crown block and traveling block. The drilling line must be inspected, slipped and cut regularly.  Potential hazards associated with working on the drilling line include flying chips of metal, being caught in moving equipment, being struck by the drilling line, and falls.

Steps to take to help prevent injuries and accidents when working on the drilling line include:

  • Know and follow the established lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures (see above). 
  • Attach a red flag or other warning device to the drawworks clutch lever. This serves as a reminder to the driller whenever the crown safety device is moved or deactivated to allow the traveling block to be raised above the the preset stopping point.
  • Wear proper personal protective equipment when cutting line (such as hard hats, work gloves and eye protection).  All PPE should be properly maintained and fully functional.
  • Always secure the drilling line ends prior to cutting line.

Oil Drilling Rig Maintenance Safety - Wire Rope

There should be an established maintenance schedule for wire ropes.  At a minimum they typically should be inspected daily.  Hazards associated with working with wire rope include cuts from the wickers or loose strands on the rope, and injuries to face and eyes from flying chips when cutting wire rope.

To prevent wire rope related injuries always seize the wire rope before cutting. Wear the proper personal protective equipment when working with wire rope. This includes a hard hat, work gloves and eye protection.  All PPE should be properly maintained and fully functional.

Oil Drilling Rig Maintenance Safety - Mud Circulating System

Mud circulating system maintenance activities include inspecting, adjusting and servicing equipment such as the mud pumps, hoses, hose connections, pop-off valve, shale shakers, belts and guards.  There are numerous hazards when working with the mud circulating system. These include:

  • Being caught between or struck by equipment.
  • Slips, trips and falls.
  • Eye injuries resulting from foreign objects or fluids.
  • Burns resulting from contact with hot fluids.
  • Drowning in a mud tank or pit.
  • Strains and sprains.

The ways to prevent accidents when working on the mud circulating system include many of the safety measures already mentioned for other rig maintenance area:

  • Always be aware of hazards and the potential for an accident. Most accidents happen because people think an accident will not happen. Always have safety first in your thoughts and actions. Use safety signs to help people to have safety first in their thoughts.
  • Know and follow the established lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures (see above).
  • Wear proper personal protective equipment (such as hard hats, work gloves, safety shoes, and eye protection).  All PPE should be properly maintained and fully functional.
  • Guardrails, handrails and other types of guards must be installed around mud tanks.
  • Keep all work areas clean and clear of oil, tools, and debris. Be aware of potential tripping and slipping hazards, and eliminate them.

Oil Drilling Rig Maintenance Safety - Generators and Electrical System

Electricity presents some unique hazards because many electrical hazards cannot be seen. Electrical maintenance includes checking connections and power cords for wear or deterioration, and replacing those that are no longer safe.   Electric motors need to be serviced at recommended intervals. All guards on motors and other machinery drive components should be in place and correctly installed.  Eelectrical connections need to be kept sealed.

The two biggest potential hazards related to the drilling rig electrical system are

  • Receiving flash burns (arc flash) or shocks when servicing motors, generators, and breaker panels.
  • Being caught in moving equipment.

To help prevent these types of accidents ensure that:

  • Generators, electric motors and breaker panels should not be washed with a water hose.
  • Know and follow the established lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures (see above).
  • Wear proper personal protective equipment. Electrical equipment should be marked with arc flash labels that show the level of PPE required, as well as the safe working distances.  Separate labels should warn about electrical shock hazards.  All PPE should be properly maintained and fully functional.
  • Do not wear jewelry when working on electrical equipment or moving equipment.
  • Do not stand directly in front of breakers when operating the breaker.
  • Use dielectric mat in front of control panel or breaker panel.
  • All exposed revolving parts such as belts, flexible drives, generators, shafts and other moving parts should be covered with appropriate shields or guards to prevent contact and injury.

Oil Drilling Rig Maintenance Safety - Engines

Engines need to be serviced at the recommended intervals. Two common hazards associated with servicing engines are:

  • Being burned by hot fluids or engine parts.
  • Becoming caught in moving equipment or parts.

Take the following steps to help prevent accidents when working on drilling rig engines:

  • Know and follow the established lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures (see above).
  • Wear proper personal protective equipment (such as hard hats, work gloves, safety shoes and eye protection).  All PPE should be properly maintained and fully functional.
  • Let the engine cool down before working on it.
  • Use safety labels to remind and warn maintenance staff about hazards associated with engines.
  • Cover all exposed revolving parts with appropriate shields and guards.

Oil Drilling Rig Maintenance Safety – Using Labels and Signs

Labels, signs and tags are an important component of drilling rig safety.  They warn people about hazards.  They are a critical part of lockout/tagout.  The remind people about the importance of always keeping safety first in their thoughts and actions.  And they provide information about proper maintenance and operating procedures, at the point where that information is needed.

What you need are labels, signs and tags that provide reliable service, without premature failure, and  that clearly deliver their message.  This means you need DuraLabel printers and supplies.  Duralabel labeling supplies are the only tough-tested supplies and DuraLabel vinyl is the ONLY vinyl that gives you a warranty on the signs and labels you make.  DuraTag stock makes LOTO tags that are so tough they don't need a grommet.  DuraLabel printers are so tough that they are the only label and sign printers to come with a full three-year warranty (including the print head) at no extra charge.

Call 1-888-326-9244 today for more information about DuraLabel printers and supplies.

Contact Request

Back