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The Dangers of Working on Oil Rigs: Winter

Having good pay and solid benefits are the most enticing attributes of working in the oil field. But to reap these benefits, workers face extreme physical and mental challenges. On top of the intense and grueling work, the work conditions on rigs can be dangerous, especially in winter.

Medical Conditions

During the winter months there are many dangers that individuals face when working on an oil rig. The most common causes of injury are slips/falls due to icy platforms and workers being hurt by equipment damaged by weather. However, there are dangers that workers are susceptible to that rules and regulations can’t keep them safe from–hypothermia and frostbite. If workers aren’t wearing the necessary PPE to protect themselves from these weather-related medical conditions, extreme cases could be fatal.

When an individual is experiencing hypothermia, their temperature drops faster than their body can generate heat. This causes all of the systems within your body to slowly shut down. Not only can wearing improper PPE contribute to hypothermia, but also being fatigued, not eating a balanced diet, or suffering from an ailment such as a cold or the flu may make an individual more susceptible.

Recognizing these symptoms for yourself is difficult, but being able to recognize them for your coworkers could prove even more difficult. For individuals who work under these harsh conditions, learning to identify symptoms is crucial. The initial signs of hypothermia can include muscle cramps, shivering and fatigue. As the condition persists, slurred speech, lack of coordination and the inability to focus become indicators of a more serious case.

The second cold weather medical condition workers are susceptible to is frostbite. Unlike hypothermia which has internal effects, frostbite is easily identifiable from its external effects. Frostbite starts by attacking the thin outer layers of skin, with the first symptom being the whitening of flesh. After warming back up, the affected area may become red in color, be swollen and itchy and painful to the touch–similar to sunburn.   

Preventative Measures

Here is a short list of preventative measures to take that could lower your chances of having hypothermia or frostbite:

  • Wear layers – The more layers you have on, the more of a barrier there is between you and the cold. Multiple layers also help lock in body heat to keep you warmer longer.
  • Cover your Head and Neck – These are the two areas where most of your body heat escapes from. Covering them will help your body retain heat.
  • Choose your Fabrics Wisely – When buying winter work clothes choose clothing made from wool or synthetic fabrics. These types of fabric are best to keep you warm and insulated. While breathable fabric, such as cotton should be avoided since you don’t want to release body heat.

Winter Work Gear

Insulated Jackets – Soaking wet winter gear is useless, so finding a jacket with a water repellant shell is crucial to keeping your inner fleece shell dry and warm. Jackets with elastic waist bands help seal the warmth in and keep the cold out as you bend and stoop while working. This neat feature will be appreciated once you wear your jacket o a sub-zero day. Another convenient feature to have is a jacket with a stand-up collar. Stand up collars block the wind, keep your neck from freezing and help you retain body heat.

Insulated Parkas – Parkas have most the same features as jackets, however there are a couple differences. Parkas do not have an outer water repellant shell and an inner fleece shell. Instead parkas are all one piece and the material they are constructed of are water resistant itself. Additionally, parkas are longer than your standard jacket; this added length keeps more than just your upper body warm.

Insulated Bibs – Insulated bibs have soft inner lining and a waterproof outer lining that work well to keep you warm and dry. Some bibs also feature heavy duty, large pulls and buttons that are easy to grab and strong enough to withstand harsh oil field conditions.

Gloves – Find a good pair of work gloves that are warm and built to last, they will be your best friend. Gloves that have a waterproof construction, are fleece lined and have extra grip are the way to go. A great bonus feature to have would be cord-cinching cuffs that extend to your forearms. This ensures your gloves are secure on your hands and that snow doesn’t make it’s way into your gloves.

Reach Out to Tiger General

Bring your next piece of equipment to where it’s needed most and fill out the Tiger General Truck Inquiry Form today.