According to the Wall Street Journal, “government and industry officials continue to wrestle with a problem investigators say was at the heart of the 2010 Gulf oil spill: human error.”
There are a lot of differences when you’re drilling into the earth below the surface of the ocean as opposed to setting up your drilling rig in the South American jungle, the northern Canadian prairies, or the brutal high arctic.
The main difference we’re going to focus on here is the isolation. Drilling teams could be stationed 25 km’s from the shoreline, but it could be 250 km’s and the same environment would completely surround the hard-working men and women who commit to that lifestyle.
Isolation, hard work, and extreme conditions are the perfect recipe for unfortunate offshore incidents. Here’s five ways to avoid those accidents.
1. Work Life Balance
Kind of a reversal of this post’s introduction, but since the biggest cause of injury is human error, it stands to reason that focus and concentration are keys to offshore drilling rig safety (not to mention drilling rig safety of all types).
How do we ensure we’re focused on the job? We take care of ourselves when we’re not on the job. Particularly when it comes to offshore drilling, an occupation that requires long shifts and intensive work, a healthy work life balance based on quality time with family and loved ones will go a long way toward refreshed, inspired work.
We’re obviously big fans of the front lines in the drilling industry. But the ambition that made a career working on an offshore drilling rig possible is also the attitude that can lead to mistakes.
Accidents don’t always have to make international headlines either. It might be quicker to pick up something heavy in order to move it – equipment, an attachment, you get the idea – but these impatient practices can lead to chronic injuries to the back, shoulders, knees, hips – the list goes on.
3. Behavioural Diligence
Diamond Offshore Drilling works with a program called the Diligent Observation Decisive Intervention process (DODI), an implement “built on the principle that targeting undesired behaviors for correction and encouraging desired behaviors will help us protect our most valuable assets: our people, our environment, and our equipment.”
Programs and safety measures such as DODI put the responsibility for safety not only in the hands of individual workers, but on the colleagues and teammates of those workers. Most of us consider ourselves invincible – it’s why we get careless and end up getting hurt.
It’s easy to miss a potential accident happening to you, but it’s tough to miss to see a potential accident happening to someone else.
4. Handsfree Operation
Hand injuries account for half of all injuries that occur on offshore drilling rigs. Safety is a priority on the water, and it starts with hand safety. This is why we designed our Scorpion Pipe Handler to operate completely handsfree. It’s human nature to get the job done quickly and easily, and when that blue collar mentality mixes with years of hands-on experience, it’s easy to see accidents happening as operators reach in to machines to make adjustments.
We’re not going to eliminate accidents entirely until we remove human beings from the front lines of offshore drilling rigs. However, we can implement new methods and technologies to prohibit the conditions necessary for accidents.
We all want to go home safely each night, but if we have to spend multiple nights on the water working for the offshore drilling sector, then we’d better be doing everything in our power to keep that job safe.