Working in The Oilfields
Welcome back for the next installation in our series about oil field work and culture. Last time, we examined the careers available in the oilfield and talked a bit about what it takes to work in the oil fields. The beauty of the oil and gas industry is that with very little education, a person can work their way up into a highly respected position. Through hard work and ambition a job in the oilfields can yield an amazing career. At Intermountain Safety Shoe we have proudly been serving the safety shoe needs of roughnecks in Denver, Colorado Springs and Golden for more than 40 years. We take great pride in helping our customers be successful by providing the most comfortable safety footwear in the industry.
So, You Want To Work in The Oilfields?
The value of good quality safety gear cannot be stressed enough, particularly when you are working in the oil patch. There are many things about working in the field that you should consider before you decide to make it a career. The bottom line is, oilfield work is tough and can be a bit much for some, but if you have what it takes to push through the hardships, it can be an amazing career. There are thousands of men and women oilfield workers that support their families everyday by tripping pipe, welding iron and driving truck. The jobs are numerous, the pay is incredible and the pride makes it all worthwhile. But what do you need to successfully start out in the oilfields?
Long Hours, Long Stretches of Time Off
When first starting out in the oil and gas industry it is not uncommon to travel long distances and spend extended periods of time away from home. Depending on the job, most shifts are 12 hours and can last for up to three weeks at a time. This is especially true if working on an offshore rig, where a month or more could go by without time off. The upside to these brutal hours is the extended time off that many companies offer their hard working employees. It is not unusual for a rig hand to have 2-3 weeks off in a row, which if you think about it, is a pretty good deal. Most companies will actually provide housing and food for their employees, either in a camp or hotels. These camps are decidedly male dominated but include sleeping quarters, transportation and meals every day. The camps survive for as long as the job is in the area or can be permanent if there is lots of drilling activity in the area. Many camps will move along with the rigs and some rigs, if large enough, have living quarters right on site. As you can see much of the logistics of working in the oilfield is taken care of for you which makes it very convenient.
The most important thing to remember about working in the oil patch is that safety gear is an essential part of everyday life. You will be depending on a wide variety of safety gear on a daily basis, and depending on the job, all the way down to the socks and underwear you wear.
The standard for oilfield work is Flame Resistant clothing or FR as it is known. You will not even be allowed on a rig site without your FR clothing. Flame resistant garments are designed to prevent, to a small degree, the wearer from flare ups and flash fires. It is a heavier type of cloth that is treated to resist bursting into flames quickly. An FR outfit can cost quite a bit but as far as comfort is concerned it is best to invest in a good set of FR’s, this includes winter coveralls as well as pants and shirts. In the winter, you will want a solid pair of coveralls to keep you comfortable in the subzero temperatures. FR’s can be quite bulky and hot in the summer and the investment in good quality clothes will keep you cool while working in the heat. Keep in mind that not all FR’s are the same and the protection level can vary, be sure and check with your company before spending the money to ensure you are buying the right gear.
You will be required to wear a certified hard hat and more than likely, the company will provide one for you. While these hard hats are just fine and will serve you well, they might not be the most comfortable. Upgrading the suspension in your hard hat is the first thing you should do to maximize comfort. Think of the suspension as a baseball cap that sits inside of your hard hat and a poor fitting suspension can be a hassle in your day to day activities. A hard hat liner is also a good idea, and they are made for both cold and warm weather. Warm weather liners can be dropped down to provide sun protection and winter liners will keep your head and face warm in very cold temperatures. Do not forget that hard hat liners will need to be made of FR fabric to be utilized in the oilfield.
Safety Glasses are another constant in the oil patch, everyone is required to wear eye protection. These glasses may prevent damage to your eyes in all sorts of situations. Like your hard hat, your safety glasses are probably going to be supplied by your employer. While this may be just fine, it is better to buy high quality safety glasses that fit your face and provide added protection. If you wear prescription glasses, you will need to visit the optometrist for a pair of custom safety glasses with side shields. Most companies will give you a stipend to purchase a pair of prescription safety glasses at regular intervals. You will encounter a wide variety of eye protection on a site. From welding helmets to full face shields, all serve their purpose.
As far as we are concerned at Intermountain Safety Shoe we are concerned with the safety of your feet above all else. The oilfields is a demanding place and we have a large selection of boots that are roughneck tested and approved. Choosing the right pair of boots is a combination of finding the right level of protection with the all day comfort that makes long days on your feet bearable. There are not too many jobs on an oil rig that keep you off of our feet and a comfortable boot will mean the difference between a day of pain and ending the shift with a spring in your step. When choosing boots the best policy is to consult with the experts at Intermountain Safety Shoe. We can help you choose the perfect boot for the job you will be doing, the conditions you will be facing and get you into something that is comfortable.
Of course that is just a brief overview of what is involved in working in the oil patch and experiences may vary. One thing that is for certain, if you desire a job that is tough but rewarding the oil and gas industry is the right place to start. So when you are ready to chase your dream of being a roughneck, stop by one of our Denver, Golden or Colorado Springs locations and we can set you up with the boots you need out in the patch. We thank you for your business, and we salute all of the hard working men and women who put their boots on every day to make our lives better. Contact us today, or stop on by, we look forward to hearing from you!