And then it happened. It’s 3 p.m. Friday afternoon. The well is drilled, the casing is set, and you and your helper are tripping drill rods back into the hole to start well development. Your helper is physically working with you as he spins the hoist plug into the next drill rod, but mentally, he is in Margaritaville searching for that shaker of salt. As he raises the rod with the helper side hoist controls, it falls and hits him on the right shoulder, injuring him and halting all activities on the jobsite. The next 30 minutes are a blur as first responders show up on site and take him to the hospital. The diagnosis is a torn shoulder, and the doctor tells you and your employee how lucky he was that the rod hit his shoulder and not his head or neck.
Now it’s late Friday night and, as you drive home from the hospital, you replay in your head what happened and what went wrong. It’s hard to recall, because tripping drill rod is a task that drillers and helpers repeat several times a day. Tripping drill rod is a task that our industry discusses as if we were a NASCAR pit crew. It’s a task with a driller and helper in complete sync, adding or removing drill rods as fast as the drilling formation will allow. That is why it is such a blur to us when we review the task at the end of the day: We trip so fast that it becomes instinct and our brains stop registering the memory. However, the next couple months will make this a fresh memory as the insurance company and Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) investigate what happened.