Life on an Oil Rig

As Jonathan Fahey reports for the Houston Chronicle, oil rig workers have dangerous jobs. Then again, most of us have vague notions that the job is dangerous. But sometimes it takes a piece like Fahey’s to really bring to light exactly what oil rig workers face on a daily basis.

Though major disasters like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout are relatively rare, smaller, less-publicized accidents – yet no less tragic to the workers involved – happen on a regular basis, sometimes leading to fatal maritime injuries.

Life on a Rig

As Fahey reports, oil rig workers get paid pretty well ($90,000 salary for a “young” engineer, for instance), but they also face small living quarters (enough for bunk beds, a desk and lockers) and they work 14 day rotations on 12-hour shifts.

On the other hand, they get to go home for a 14-day break before returning again to the oil rig, giving them needed respite.

But, as Fahey points out, if the workers “lose control” of the machine on which they work, they could be seriously injured and may even be killed – not to mention the loss in revenue that the oil company faces if there are delays or work stoppages.

All of this combines to create a considerable amount of pressure, 14-day breaks and good pay notwithstanding.

When it comes to life on a rig, it’s all about this: “Keep the oil and gas flowing.” Unfortunately, there are significant safety risks when this is your focus.

Source: Houston Chronicle, “The offshore drilling life: cramped and dangerous,” by Jonathan Fahey, 12/30/11