Offshore InjuryBlog

What Is a Roustabout?

Roustabouts are maintenance workers who focus on making sure oil and gas rigs are running safely and as expected. They are essentially the “boots on the ground,” responsible for making sure oil wells are operating efficiently and constantly. As a result, a roustabout’s duties are often flexible and varied, ranging from sweeping the floors of the rig to handling dangerous chemicals. Some common duties include maintaining and repairing oil well heads, lead lines, and saltwater disposal pumps.

What Do Roustabouts Do?

As mentioned above, the tasks of a roustabout depend on what work is needed at a drilling site during their shift.

Duties of roustabouts include:

  • Cleaning up work sites
  • Set up oil well heads
  • Unloading and installing equipment
  • Repairing pumps, tools, and other equipment
  • Performing maintenance on tools

A great roustabout is a person who has physical and mental stamina as well as a dedication to safety. Often, the safety of rigs depends on how dedicated to doing the job right a roustabout is, especially since they are in charge of maintaining and repairing vital equipment.

Are Roustabouts the Same as Roughnecks?

The terms roustabout and roughneck originated from 19th century traveling circuses. At the time, the words were used interchangeably to described workers who performed hard manual labor. Around the 1970s, the terms diversified to have different meanings within the oil and gas industry.

As mentioned above, roustabouts handle much of the physical tasks at drilling sites. A roughneck is generally someone who works on the rig floor and handles equipment specific to drilling. Essentially, a roustabout does the work that ensures roughnecks can carry out their duties.

Often, becoming a roustabout is a person’s first step to being a roughneck.

Does Being a Roustabout Require Going to School?

No, being a roustabout is a job that most learn with hands-on experience. In some instances, a person might serve an apprenticeship before becoming a full-time roustabout. However, some vocational schools do offer courses that focus on training roustabouts at an accelerated pace. This option is great for those who wish to be as prepared as possible before starting their new career, but is not required.

Tools Used by Roustabouts

Like any job, roustabouts have a set of tools they’ll rely on each shift. Roustabout tools include basic personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, earmuffs, and boots. Other tools used by roustabouts include hoists, safety harnesses, power tools, screwdrivers, hammers, sanders, and oxygen gas analyzers. Additionally, a roustabout will likely use computer programs to write reports, manage projects, and log their work.

What Being a Roustabout Means for OIl & Gas Workers

Roustabout is actually an official rank classification on an oil rig. The name signifies that the worker is new and the lowest-ranking type of worker. Most roustabouts are intended to do jobs that require little training, but as their experience grows, so does their ability to handle dangerous duties. Unfortunately, their pay does not reflect the danger of the job. CareerCast did a job study on the American workforce in 2009 and 2011. It reviewed jobs based on five criteria:

  • Environment
  • Income
  • Employment outlook
  • Physical demands
  • Stress

Out of 200 jobs, being a roustabout was listed as the absolute worst. However, many roustabouts, while aware of the dangers of their job, find the work fulfilling and challenging in unique ways. Unfortunately, those challenges can turn deadly under the wrong circumstances. Roustabouts face slip-and-fall accidents, precarious heights, exposure to hazardous chemicals, and frequent exposure to dangerous machines on a regular basis, just to name a few. In fact, one study concluded that roustabouts make up 14% of all injuries involving oil services, which is a very high rate of risk.

Injuries Deserve Compensation—Call Offshore Injury Lawyers Today

If you have been injured while working as a roustabout on an oil rig or in any other capacity, you may be able to secure compensation for the financial damages you’ve experienced. While working in the oil industry is naturally dangerous, most accidents are avoidable through following safety guidelines. If your co-worker or employer was negligent and it resulted in your injury, you may have a claim.

Call our maritime law attorneys today at (888) 346-5024 for a free and confidential consultation. We’re ready to help all types of offshore workers.

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