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What Is a Roustabout?
Qualifications, Skill Set & Tasks Info

A roustabout is a worker on an oil rig who is new and low-ranking, performing the most difficult and dangerous manual labor on the vessel. As such, roustabouts face slip-and-fall accidents, precarious heights, exposure to hazardous chemicals, and frequent exposure to dangerous machines on a regular basis.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

Schmidt & Clark, LLP is not currently accepting these types of cases and has posted this content for information purposes only. We encourage you to seek a qualified attorney, if you feel you might have a case.

Have you or a loved one been seriously injured or killed while working as a roustabout on an oil rig or in any other capacity? If so, you should contact us immediately for a free consultation. You may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries and our law firm can help.

Schmidt & Clark, LLP is dedicated to protecting the rights of American oil field workers and is one of the only firms willing to handle this type of complex litigation throughout the entire United States.

What Does a Roustabout Do?

Roustabouts are maintenance workers who focus on making sure oil and gas rigs are running safely and as expected. They are essentially the “boots on the ground,” responsible for making sure oil wells are operating efficiently and constantly.

As a result, a roustabout’s duties are often flexible and varied, ranging from sweeping the floors of the rig to handling dangerous chemicals. Some common duties include maintaining and repairing oil wellheads, lead lines, and saltwater disposal pumps.

Roustabout Injuries

A five-year study from 2009-2013 found that the following injuries are the most common among roustabouts in the oil and gas industry:

  • Being struck by falling tools or equipment has the highest incidence rate, accounting for 38% of all accident claims. Being struck by equipment can lead to brain and head injuries and, occasionally, loss of limbs.
  • Being caught in machinery and equipment, which can result in crushing injuries and amputations, accounts for 14% of all accident claims.
  • Falls, from heights or on the same level, account for a collective 24% of accident claims. Falls can result in brain, head, and spinal cord injury, and even death.
  • Motor vehicle incidents (MVIs) account for 5% of accident claims. MVIs can lead to any number of injuries, including crushing injuries, spinal cord damage, and burns.
  • Other injuries, like burns, represent 19% of oil industry accident claims. Oil rig fires can get out of control quickly and lead to severe burns, smoke inhalation, and death.

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What's the Difference Between a Roustabout and a Roughneck?

Roughnecks, skilled members of drilling crews, are employed in the drilling of oil wells. Once the wells are put on-line, roughnecks hurry to find work in the next oil strike. Roustabouts, unskilled laborers, also follow the oil booms; however, they often take work outside of drilling operations and sometimes became more permanent oil-town residents.

Does Being a Roustabout Require Going to School?

No formal educational qualification is typically needed for becoming employed as a roustabout. Usually, most candidates have at least a high school diploma. Other skills and qualifications include strength and dexterity, team coordination, communication skills, ability to manage time, and physical and mental stamina.

What is a Roustabout Salary?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 44,710 roustabouts were employed in the United States in 2020. Fifty percent of roustabouts earned more than ​$39,420​ per year and the top 10 percent annually earned upwards of ​$60,650. In 2019, the BLS projected that job demand for roustabouts would grow 25 percent over the decade ending in 2029.

How Many Hours Do Roustabouts Work?

Roustabouts typically work 12-hour (or more) shifts for two weeks straight. However, if you’re young, in good health, and in good shape, getting work as a roustabout can pay well.

What Tools Do Roustabouts Use?

Roustabouts must have technology skills. The job requires them to use computers and software programs to log maintenance and repair work. Roustabouts also must know how to use many tools, including air and electric hoists, oxygen sensors, deck grinders, safety harnesses, and a wide range of hand-held tools.

To work as a roustabout, you also need to have the ability to monitor and assess equipment functionality. This includes watching gauges, dials, and other indicators.

What to do if You've Been Injured on an Oil Rig

Whether you’ve been hurt while as a roustabout on an oil or gas rig, or while working in any other position on one of these vessels, you may wonder what to do and who to turn to if you’ve been hurt.

Your first step is to seek out medical care, even if the injury seems relatively minor. Oftentimes workers may delay seeking out a doctor, thinking that it’s just minor soreness or pain, when in fact, the injuries turn out to be much more severe than initially thought. Having a doctor evaluate you following an accident is also important for legal reasons in order to supply critical documentation about your injury.

Your next step is to take notes about anything you can remember about what led up to the accident, what caused the accident, who was nearby, and what happened following the accident. While you may think the event would be impossible to forget, things often get muddled in our memory, and having this information written down while it is fresh in your mind is helpful.

In the aftermath of the accident, you may be encouraged to sign documents from the company, its attorneys, or its insurance adjusters. Many times, these documents are meant to get you to admit some degree of fault, to accept a low-ball settlement, or to agree not to file a lawsuit. You should not sign any documents after an accident without first consulting with an oil rig accident lawyer.

Personal injury law is complicated, but maritime injury law is even more complex, which is why you need an attorney who specializes in these types of accidents and injuries. The law firm of Schmidt & Clark, LLP, is here to help. We know the struggles that oil rig workers face and we have seen the devastation that these accidents can cause them and their families.

At Schmidt & Clark, LLP, we are committed to defending workers and we aren’t afraid to stand up to the major oil companies in our pursuit of fair and just compensation for our clients.

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The law firm of Schmidt & Clark, LLP, is dedicated to protecting the rights of the American oil and gas worker and is one of the only firms willing to handle oil rig injury litigation throughout the entire United States.

Again, if you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed while working as a roustabout on an oil rig or in any other capacity, you should contact our oil field accident lawyers immediately by using the form below or calling our law firm toll-free 24 hrs/day by dialing (866) 588-0600 for a free consultation and legal advice.

Injured workers may be able to recover compensation for medical bills from an oil company in a lawsuit and our oil field injury lawyers can help.