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Working for a serial killer?

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Regarding your story “Disposable workers of the oil and gas fields,” I work in the oilfields now; I’m a derrick hand (HCN, 4/2/07). While I respect anyone with 50 years in the fields, I also say “crap” to the perceived value of “safety meetings.” I have to write at least one job description report and one near miss/stop report each shift; everyone on the shift has to sign it. We often don’t even remember what it was about. It’s only there for looks.

If the safety of employees were a major concern, then why do we always have to cut corners for production? Last night, no stop on the catwalk but I was told to “chain off” the pipe and then was not allowed to grab a “boomer” to do it properly. A procedure, I assure you, that would have taken me less than a minute to complete. Of course, the pipe shot out and landed 12 feet off the catwalk; no one batted an eye. For those that don’t know, it was what’s called a 20-pound pipe, meaning it weighs 20 pounds a foot, and it was 31 feet long. It fell 50 feet and slid another 45 before stopping; anything even close to in the way would have been dead.

When a crown falls down and kills two men because of metal fatigue, and the companies’ total liability is less than the cost of a decent house, something’s wrong. Two men died this summer because a 35-year-old rig wasn’t properly inspected and literally collapsed under what many would agree were normal operating parameters.

I like my job. I’m damn good at it, but, it seems, more and more, I feel like I’m working for a serial killer.

Rick Ellington
> Pampa, Texas >

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