When a drilling crew needs to evacuate the rig floor due to an emergency, the evacuation will usually need to take place very quickly. A person who is indecisive about an escape route may hesitate and become an accident victim. Prior planning and abandon-platform drills can increase the likelihood of a quick and safe crew evacuation during an emergency.
Each driller and his crew should discuss and practice the following suggestions:
Because most masts are more open on the V-door side, pipe, blocks, and other objects that may fall from above the floor, will often fall towards the catwalk. Because of this, exiting the floor by the V-door or the stairway near the V-door may only keep a person in harm’s way.
Don’t forget the derrickman. Make sure he knows when and why to evacuate. Provide the derrickman with a proper escape mechanism and be sure he knows how to use it. The escape mechanism(s) should be located such that the derrickman has easy access and they should carry the derrickman at an angle away from the base of the rig. The derrickman should be able to board the escape device in such a way that he is protected from falling at all times. At times two escape devices may be needed, and an evaluation of the drilling plan by the operator should provide this information. The landing area(s) away from the rig should be clear of all obstructions.
Drilling crews should be aware of plans and hold drills for evacuation from fires and poison gas atmospheres. Wind indicators that are visible from the rig floor will aid the crewmembers in staying upwind from a fire or poison gas exposure. When breathing air masks are available, the crews should be trained in their use. During a poison gas emergency, if the masks are stored near the floor area, they should be put on by the crewmembers before exiting the floor. The wind direction may change and a person cannot hold his breath very long when excited and exerting himself.
Prevention is always the best solution to a safety problem. We must always strive to prevent incidents that would create a need for rig floor evacuation. Hoisting equipment and lines should be properly used and maintained. Crown safety cutouts should always be in working order and properly adjusted. Keepers should always be used for pins that hold the mast components together. Crewmembers should not be allowed on the rig floor while pulling stuck pipe nor allowed to trip pipe during heavy winds.