4 Ways to Commit to Offshore Drilling Rig Safety

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.

2. Patience

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.

Focused on the Future: 4 Ways to Contribute to a Prosperous Drilling Industry

We’ve spent a lot of time in the last six months exploring the drilling industry. From the Groundwater Expo in Las Vegas in December to the PDAC Convention in Toronto in March, we’ve seen the best the industry has to offer. We’ve met intelligent decision makers, hard working operators and determined investors. All have a stake in constructing our economy’s future, and all have a unique way in which to do so.

We like to think we’re unique as well. Heck, we know we’re unique. We know we’re doing things our own way and those methods are adding a lot of value to the local market we’re working with here in Langley, overseas and everywhere a Viking West attachment is found.

Here are four methods we focus on to ensure Viking West is heading in the right direction.

1. Find Hidden Ways to be More Productive

The problem with productivity is that it can initially take some time to find better procedures that work for you. Our industry has been guilty in the past of sticking with methods that work – and there’s nothing inherently wrong in that, it’s just that if we never try anything new, then our industry, or more specifically, your corner of it, will stagnate. Find new ways to shrink schedules. Look for new methods of automation. Leverage your engineering. If you pay close attention to your productivity, chances are the time will save itself.

2. Dedicate Yourself to Safety Without Fail

“Everyone wants to go home safe.” My Dad was a welder for 45 years in Alberta’s oil and gas industry, and he found it humorous how often companies would talk the talk without walking the walk. Safety isn’t just a mission statement, it’s a culture. ‘Going home safe’ seems to exempt us from working safe between the time we arrive at work and the time we leave. While we’re looking for new ways to be productive, let’s look for new ways to be safer while we’re on the job.

3. Take Calculated Risks

I asked Viking West’s Kevin Reimer about risk the other day, specifically regarding the production of a brand new Scorpion Pipe Handler Attachment.

Here’s Kevin: “On the one hand, it’s a custom attachment that hasn’t necessarily been done before, so sure, there’s risk involved, but only to us, not the customer. We could go through the process of designing and testing to ensure the attachment will fit properly or maybe the schedule we’ve been given is too tight. Our industry needs to use its time wisely, but we believe it’s still wise to use your time to make new things that have a great chance of contributing to the industry.”

4. Work Hard to Minimize Those Risks

Ok, so we need to put ourselves out there a bit, but that doesn’t mean we should sweat it when we take calculated risk.

Here’s Kevin again: “In the case of the Scorpion Pipe Handler, we were filling a customer’s order to their precise specifications, so the risk was diminished greatly. Again, it’s simply your time that’s on the line, but we look at exactly what the customer is asking for and if we think it’s a machine that could be of use to the market then we’ll produce it on a larger scale.”

When it comes to manufacturers or equipment dealers, there’s action we can take to help stabilize a global economy that’s taken its fair share of hits. We talk a lot about working smarter rather than harder, but the truth is that there’s no substitute for hard work. Dedication, enthusiasm, innovation – all these characteristics fall under the banner of hard work. If we all take the time to contribute a little more to the economy, then there’s no question we’ll all be richer for it in the end.

Our Review of Groundwater Expo 2015

The National Groundwater Expo held in Las Vegas this past year was an excellent opportunity for the team here at Viking West not only to meet and interact with some of our industry’s most intelligent and creative influencers, but to do so alongside our new partners from Dando Drilling International.

It was Viking’s first chance to attend a conference with Dando, and to team up to spread a common message to the new people with whom we had the chance to speak.

I caught up with Kevin Reimer to talk about the conference and what it meant both for Viking West and Dando, but also the drilling and groundwater sectors as a whole.

Kelvin: Since this was your first experience at Groundwater, what were your first impressions when you arrived at the show?

Kevin: The first thing I noticed was simply the amount of people. It was packed, there were people everywhere. I figured there might be a dip in attendance because of the state of oil, but I learned later that attendance came out at roughly the same number as 2014.

What were some of your early conversations and interactions like?

People were definitely interested in our products. We’re sort of the newcomer on the block, so maybe there was a little bit of sizing up (laughs). Seriously though, we brought along our Scorpion™ Pipe Handler and the Double Clamp Wrench, so people were very interested in seeing the designs and were impressed with the quality of all the components as well as the finished products.

It was great to have Dando by our side, they had their tooling display up and the Dando Terrier, so together we brought people in the door right away, which was great to see.

What was some of the chatter about amongst all the attendees?

Actually, the big thing that surprised me was that no one was talking about the economy. It was refreshing. Obviously the economy is a key indicator of success, or at least a driving force for the industry, but for the most part people were more interested in what we can do as an industry instead of what we can’t. People want to talk about solutions instead of excuses right now, so it’s nice to know that the investment to travel to the show was worthwhile.


We made some great contacts with new companies, so we’re going to spend the next little while following up on those leads and talking with people to see if there’s a way we can help grow their business with our attachments.

Were there any surprises at Groundwater Expo?

You bet, welcome surprises. One of which, right now our Scorpion™ Pipe Handler is equipped to handle 10 foot rods, and a large company we spoke with asked if we could create one to manage lengths of 40 feet.

This is the awesome thing about shows like this, it gives us a chance to learn more about who’s out there and what we can do to contribute to their business. Which, really, is the entire basis upon which Viking West was built. Learn about the work and the client, communicate, design together and enjoy the savings in the end. I love talking shop with new potential clients, or just people in the industry, because you learn that everyone just wants to do good work and push the economy forward.

Another cool surprise was speaking with companies interested in becoming distributors. We weren’t sure what kind of response we’d get, we had a big sign and everything, but it paid off, there are people out there who want to carry our products, so it’s confirmation that our relatively new company is on a good path.

Was the show long enough?

(Laughs) No, I could have stayed in Vegas for a little while longer. Even for two days though it was great to present alongside Dando. They’ve been in business for 100 years and we’re partners now, so everyone knows them, and by proxy they’re getting to know us as well.

The set up was good, it was organized, there was lots of room despite the crowd, so I really have only good things to report.

Sounds like a solid trip! Congrats guys!

Interested in becoming a distributor for Viking West? Let’s talk.

Safety Profile: The Hands-Free Operation of the Scorpion™ Pipe Handler

The primary responsibility of a sophisticated piece of machinery is to get the job done with as little physical human interaction possible.

Why? Because with fewer situations requiring hands-on operation there are fewer opportunities for human error.

The current state of the economy in Canada, the United States and in the international drilling community as a result of oil prices means that now is the perfect time to take a good look at how we can improve safety features and develop new products with innovative safety protocols.

The Scorpion™ Pipe Handler is a new design that Viking West plans to unveil at the Groundwater Expo in Las Vegas in December. The Scorpion™ is the result of previous versions designed and tested for specific safety features.

Here are the three key features of the new Scorpion™ Pipe Handler from Viking West.

Scorpion Logo

1. Lighter Design, Lighter Components

The added benefit of a sleeker design was the productivity that came along as a result. Not only is the Scorpion™ easier for workers in the field to handle, making it safer, the increased manageability makes it possible to get more work done with longer shifts. Safety was still the priority during design, but the added production doesn’t hurt either.

Key feature: The Scorpion™ uses hydraulic cylinders with progressive link which makes for a compact, simple design with smooth progressive 135 degree rotation range and stability.

2. Industry-First Clamping Assembly

In order to create a truly hands-free environment where not only is the worker dissuaded from interacting with the product, but is physically incapable of interacting, the Scorpion™ incorporates a unique patent-pending rack and pinion design, the first of its kind in the drilling industry.

This design guarantees simultaneous clamping with every instance of use. The rack ensures clamps are never out of alignment. With older designs, drill pipes can get pushed off centre and create mis-alignment due to uneven clamping.

Key feature: With the rack and pinion design, pipes are clamped dead centre below the spindle every time, ensuring human interaction with pipe is never required.  

3. Eliminating the Possibility of Danger

When pipes are misaligned with the drive adapter, the intention of the operator on the ground is simply to to reach in with a hand and manually pull or push the pipe. No one wants to imagine the accidents that can occur as a result of this interaction, but as the industry moves forward, it’s our responsibility to consider the dangers and find guaranteed solutions. The dangers associated with operator engagement of pipe handlers?

  • crushing
  • pinching
  • rotation

These instances are normally caused by human error. Hair can catch, clothing can become loose – danger happens when you least expect it. How do we eliminate human error? Easy: we use humans for their ingenuity and intelligence while we use the machines for their strength and stamina.

In summary:

The Scorpion™ was designed to create a hands-free environment.

The guaranteed centering of drill pipes creates accurate simultaneous engagement.

Interaction with the rotating pipe is eliminated.

The result? A safer workplace where more work gets done.

Come see us in Las Vegas for the Groundwater Expo December 15 – 17.

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