Working with drilling rigs

Safety Alert | 22/10/2015

This safety alert highlights the hazards associated with drilling rigs and the action required to manage these hazards.


A 35-year-old worker died after his clothing was tangled on the rotating auger of the drilling rig he was operating.

Drilling rigs present many hazards, including:

  • clothing getting tangled on rotating parts
  • drilling rigs retracting to the travelling position without warning
  • leaks from a hydraulic hose projecting liquid under pressure
  • hot hydraulic hoses inflicting burn injuries.

 Drilling rig mounted on a utility

Action required

  • Where you can, provide interlocked guards that prevent access to the rotating auger.
  • Use hold-to-run controls (machine stops if you let go of the control lever).
  • Locate control levers away from the auger, far enough to prevent the operator from reaching the dangerous parts.
  • Never bypass, weigh or tie down hold-to-run controls to operate the rig.
  • Mechanically lock the rig in its vertical position as soon as you raise it. 
  • Never operate the rig if another person is near the auger.
  • Do not wear loose clothing, or loose jewellery.
  • Cover long hair.
  • Inspect and maintain the rig in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations.

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