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Perils of Climbing on Rigs and the Safety Equipment you Need

fall prevention safety

Considered one of the prime sectors in the US, the oil and gas sector attracts workers in thousands every year. Other than the attractive benefits that come with working for these companies, people fail to identify the numerous perils that accompany the sector. Accidents occur every day and any hour you spend in the oil and gas industry puts you at risk of facing safety issues. Additionally, despite many companies taking the necessary precautions and safety measures, fatalities have become part of the oil and gas industries and most of these injuries inevitable. Some companies are even taking up to themselves to mitigate deaths as well as injuries by manufacturing quality safety equipment.

The most affected sector is the rigging industry. Oil equipment is cited as one of the most dangerous in the U.S. often; one needs to climb on the oilrigs to check out how well they are operating. Again, you might jump on a platform to unclog it or replace a broken one. Keep in mind that climbing up on that rig exposes you to both primary structural and environmental hazards. You need to put on the right equipment and take extra precautions to avoid any injuries. Below are some perils of climbing on rigs as well as the proper safety equipment.


Falls and associated accidents are the major hazards to workers climbing on a rig. Falls are a concern in many types of industries, but they are a major issue on oilrigs. Based on a study done by the CDC, seven percent of oil employee’s fatalities resulted from falls from higher to lower levels. You can trip and fall while climbing a ladder and maybe injure your neck or even break an arm or a leg.

Additionally, as a routine maintenance executive, you are required to climb ladders, structures, and stack to rich the rig. You can jump from 20 feet to 100 feet off the ground. What causes many people to fall is ice, grease, or a second of lost focus. However, with the right fall protection equipment, you can avoid several injuries.

Falling Tools

While climbing on rigs, you might be required to carry along some working tools. It becomes dangerous when those devices fall off from a high level and strike a person who is right beneath you. According to CDC reports, 22 percent of the recorded fatalities in oil and gas industries resulted from such an incident. Therefore, it is highly advisable for all workers to put on their hard hats, FR headwear, or the Non-FR headwear to guard against this type of injuries.

Dangerous Machineries

Well, oilrigs use several types of hazardous machinery such as the drill, spinning machinery, cranes, and forklifts. Keep in mind that these types of machinery can be dangerous especially if you do not know how to operate them. Others are quite noisy and can even damage your ears. Hence, it is up to the company to train their employees how different types of machinery work and how to operate them. Also, insist that the firm provides you with the right protection to avoid damaging your ears.

Consecutively, some oilrigs still use material-rated lifts to raise a person. Workers could be exposed to entanglement hazards, and some machines are high enough to propel a worker out of a bucket or off a lift. The CDC alleged that six percent of the reported fatalities were due to employees being crushed by moving machines in the industry. Another 5 percent succumbed to issues arising from electrocutions.


You might ask yourself what fire does have to do with you climbing on a rig. Well, remember that petroleum and other chemicals flowing through the rigs, such as hydrogen sulfide, are highly flammable. Several reports indicate that seven percent of all fatalities in oil and gas industries were attributed to fires whereas another 9 percent resulted from explosions. When too much pressure builds up in the rigs, delayed corrections are perfect recipes for possible explosions.

Meanwhile, ensure that you have an escape system before climbing on a platform in the case of a fire or blowout. Some systems that can bring you back to the ground safely in less than ten seconds and you need to know how they work. You only step into the system and be automatically lowered to the ground.


Fatigue is among the dangers of climbing on oilrigs. Remember your body is worked resulting to fatigue and accumulated fatigue slows reaction time and increases the probability of an accident. Fatigue is often connected to long working hours. Most employees in oilrigs work between 7 and 14 days continuously and each day entails eight to 12 hours.

Perils of climbing on rigs are not only observed in the working area but also outside the company. For several years, many employees from the oil and gas industry have been involved in fatal road accidents. Can you imagine working for 12 hours without a break and then climbing on your track for a four-long hour drive? Maybe you are required to transport goods from various places even after remote workers of working on the rigs.

Someone with such a tight schedule can drive recklessly and quickly cause a road accident. Oil and gas sectors ought to take the necessary measures to prevent such accidents. As an employee, you should ensure that you take work that you can only handle to avoid overworking yourself. Again, request for help or ask your employer to delegate what you cannot handle to another person. If you want to avoid an accident because of fatigue, ensure that you take your time and get enough rest.

Chemical Exposure and Burns

Many oil and gas industries deal with extremely hazardous chemicals and most of these chemicals often diffuse into the atmosphere. Hydrogen sulfide is the most common chemical used in the oilrigs. You can have significant respiratory and brain problems if you are exposed to these volatile and toxic chemicals for too long. In reality, high levels of hydrogen sulfide cause leukemia, paralysis, and can also result in death.

Other side effects of prolonged exposure to hydrogen sulfide include nausea, eye and skin irritation, chemical burns, headaches, and dizziness. Ensure that you put on the proper eye, face, as well as respiratory protection. Respirators and cartridges also come in handy while climbing on rigs. To prevent any chemical burns, you can put on gloves.

Limited climbing Spaces

When you are working on oilrigs, you may be required to enter confined spaces and encounter ignition of flammable vapors or gasses. Such places include storage tanks, and other excavated areas and often require permits. Keep off these areas if you are not authorized. Additionally, ensure that you have the proper guidance before entering such an area. The advice will help you recognize and identify all hazards and help control them.


Sometimes, when climbing on rigs, you might encounter uncontrollable electrical, hydraulic, and mechanical equipment. If any of the equipment is not properly installed, designed or maintained properly, it might result in electrocution when you come into contact. Make sure that you follow the right operating procedures and implement all the necessary safety measures and operations to avoid such an incidence.

Poor Working Conditions

It is not a wonder to find yourself in an oilrig with poor working conditions and relations. When climbing a rig, you need a team with members whom you can relate to and coordinate well. With poor labor relations, you may even find yourself performing his same task repetitively or doing something that someone had already done. In addition, you can find yourself working in awkward body postures and reaching overhead. Risk factors and resulting injuries from poor working conditions can be eliminated through pre-task planning and early recognition of hazards.

Michael Snyder
Michael Snyder