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Duties of the Roustabout Crew in the Oil and Gas Field

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Roustabouts have entry-level jobs and are responsible for supporting oilfield operations on an oil rig or a derrick. Roustabouts are supposed to perform different activities by using physical strength as well as different kinds of hand and power tools and other kinds of heavy equipment.

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Roustabouts handle laboring tasks that help maintain the drilling area. They can be a part of a drilling team or crew or work on a location temporarily while performing some specific tasks. However, beside of roustabouts, oil and gas workers include some other positions such as service unit operators, derrick operators, and drill operators. Drilling workers are responsible for operating the equipment used for drilling wells through soil and rock formations, while service workers are in charge of finishing all preparations related to well and assembling the equipment that is used to remove the gas and oil from the well. There are also roughnecks who fulfill more skilled duties and provide supervision of the actual drilling operations ("Oil & Gas Industry Job Guide").

The primary duty of roustabouts is general upkeep and repair of the operating machinery and equipment that are used to get the oil out of the ground. Workers must be familiar with various kinds of machines and tools that are used in the process of taking the oil out of the oil rig or derrick. They assemble and install pipe sections, steam engine parts, motors, fittings and plumbing fixtures. Workers assemble and disassemble manufactured products by hand ("Oil and Gas Roustabouts" ).

Roustabouts deal with the special equipment on the regular basis. While dealing with machinery, roustabouts may need to repair oil field equipment like boilers and steam engines using hand and power tools. Their duties may also include operating vehicles or mechanized devices; therefore, aptitude for mechanics and ability to handle machinery would be extremely useful.  For instance, they may have to use truck winches and motorized lifts in order to move pipes.

In spite of the fact that roustabouts usually perform semiskilled or unskilled manual labor, they need to have some competence in the field of oil and gas. Therefore, they are supposed to be able to monitor different processes and estimate the quantifiable characteristics of products, events, and information. For example, one of the responsibilities of a roustabout is to detect leaks by using special electronic equipment and repair the leaks(Occupational Outlook Handbook). They have also to detect any kind of other technical problems and eliminate them as soon as possible in order to provide the normal workflow.

Doing such kind of work requires a good physical strength and health. Roustabouts are performing different physical activities such as handling, sorting, and moving pipes, drill tools, cement and other heavy objects and materials. They load and unload pipes and connect piping in order to make pipelines between holding tasks loading areas. Duties may include digging drainage ditches around wells, storage tanks, holes and trenches for posts or other foundations. They also have to do some construction work when erecting and repairing wooden frameworks and structures. For example, while building derricks, roustabouts are bolting and nailing together wood and steel frameworks.

Besides working with machinery and equipment, roustabouts perform different routine activities such as cleaning and maintaining the surrounding area clean and neat. With general cleaning up and keeping the work area orderly, their responsibilities also include equipment cleaning and cleaning up oil spills by bailing it into barrels. They do basic maintenance and help maintain stem engines, boilers, and other equipment. Other “peripheral” tasks may include such activities as rust removal, painting, and other minor duties ("Roughneck/Roustabout Jobs").

Roustabout’s job presupposes doing continual hard work regardless extreme weather conditions. Sites of oil and gas extraction can be located on land or at sea, which are usually called offshore spots. Roustabouts usually have tough working schedule that includes eight or 12 hours shifts as long as oil rigs operate seven days a week and 24 hours a day. If an oil rig is a remote site or a derrick is located in the ocean, roustabouts are required to work onsite for weeks, and after that they may be entitled to seven days off. They may also work 14 days in a row that are followed by a vacation of 14 days off. Thus, part-time job opportunities are not available in this industry. 

A job of roustabouts is claimed to be one of the most dangerous and tough. The fact is that people doing any kind of work related to the field of oil and gas extraction may experience nonfatal injuries quite often. This industry is marked with a higher-than-average rate of injuries ("Roustabout"). When performing work duties and responsibilities, workers are supposed to use personal protective equipment in order to minimize any kind of unpredictable traumatic incidents, for example, a hard hat, work boots, and gloves may sometimes save a life to a worker and prevent him from serious injuries. Therefore, secure footing is a great concern when it comes to providing safety in a work environment.

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Doing roustabout job is physically challenging. The thing is that roustabouts are working outdoors and are exposed to different unfavorable working conditions such as the hot and cold temperatures, high places, extremely bright and dim lighting conditions, and the whole body vibration. In addition, very often they have to work in a cramped space while getting into the uncomfortable body positions. Working conditions may require wearing different kinds of open or enclosed equipment. Besides, roustabouts have to work very close to their coworkers, sometimes even within few inches of others.

As long as doing roustabout’s job may potentially take place in the hazardous environment, workers must remember to conform to the company policy regulations regarding equipment and team members’ safety. Roustabouts are exposed to the hazardous equipment and contaminants such as crude oil on a daily basis. Besides, a constant and loud noise made by drilling machinery is an additional danger, which may make communication process between workers quite difficult ("Oil and Gas Workers"). Workers are exposed to distracting and uncomfortable noise and sounds on a regular basis. Therefore, roustabouts need some knowledge of public safety and security and follow all the instructions from their supervisors. They should realize that any kind of the violation may result into harmful natural conditions or health risks.

Conclusion

Roustabout job is a tough occupation that requires both stamina and good physical strength. Roustabouts usually perform laboring duties related to the maintenance of the oil rig area and operating equipment. They are responsible for general upkeep of the working area and cleaning the equipment. Roustabouts deal with different kinds of operating machines used to get oil or gas out of the well. Therefore, they have to build pipelines, assemble boilers, and steam engine parts. Moreover, they are supposed to detect any kind of technical problem or leak and remove it. In general, roustabouts may often work under great pressure of hazardous environment and extreme weather conditions.

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