Perforating guns are among the potentially most dangerous pieces of equipment used by those who drill wells. Using the guns to punch holes in the casing that lines the wellbore is among the last steps in the process – and the most important one.
Because these guns have high energy charges, it’s imperative that safety protocols are followed. Because the gun is in the well while the operator is above ground and unable to see it, they can’t always detect whether the gun is broken or if some other issue has arisen.
The risk of explosion is high if safety protocols aren’t followed
Among the safety practices outlined by the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC) for the use of perforation guns are the following:
- Always handle the guns as if they’re live.
- Don’t load or unload them near any transmission systems or electrical plants.
- Use only explosion-proof flashlights.
- Don’t smoke or use cellphones, radios or other electronic devices near the area.
- Only trained, experienced professionals should use these guns.
A serious incident last year caused resulted in OSHA citations
An incident late last year that seriously injured three workers and caused a well to explode exemplifies the dangers of perforating guns. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigation, a perforating gun detonated while workers were attaching the blasting cap to it prior to putting it down the well. The three workers with hit with shrapnel. One was left with permanent injuries.
The OSHA investigation cited two energy companies for failing to take adequate safety precautions to protect both their employees and the public in transporting the hazardous materials and in the way they were handled.
Of course, things can go wrong for other reasons as well. For example, malfunctioning or defective equipment can also lead to devastating injuries.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in oil field work, it’s crucial to determine the cause of the injuries and potential third-party liability. This can be a complicated process, so it’s wise to have legal guidance to help ensure you get the compensation you’re due.