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Rig-up and rig-down safety issues for Montana oil field workers


There are a lot of ways workers can be injured in the oil fields of Montana and North Dakota. Injuries can occur at any stage of the drilling, hydraulic fracturing and pumping process. Two stages of the process that present special hazards are rig-up and rig-down.

Rig-up is the oil industry term for the delivery, construction and connecting up of drilling equipment. Rig-down refers to dismantling the equipment and removing it from the site. These procedures involve the movement of large, heavy components, and workers are at risk of being struck or crushed by the equipment.

Employers and workers should ensure that all rig-up and rig-down procedures are conducted according to a carefully prepared plan. Proper supervision is essential. The company should ensure that the ground is stable and compacted before staging and erecting equipment. Ground stability should be rechecked after heavy rains or flooding.

Heavy equipment should be properly anchored and stabilized. Supervisors should ensure that there is enough space between equipment and materials to reduce the potential for crush injury. When equipment is being unloaded, workers should stand clear. Lift team workers should never lift loads above workers, and should lift loads above wells only when necessary to install well equipment.

When a worker is injured in an oil field accident they have the right to collect workers' compensation benefits from their employer. If a non-employer third party contributed to the accident as well, the worker may have the right to sue the third party and recover additional damages.

Source: OSHA.gov, "Hydraulic Fracturing and Flowback Hazards Other than Respirable Silica," accessed Nov. 16, 2015

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