Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Safety, Security, and Emergency Management

First Advisor

E. Scott Dunlap

Department Affiliation

Safety, Security, and Emergency Management


Why do workers on a modern offshore drilling rig continue to make decisions leading to unsafe conditions, acts or incidents? In a perfect world, workers in any industry would go to work and come home in the same condition as they started the day: no incidents. Worker injuries and deaths are all too common in the workplace whether on land or at sea. On a modern drilling rig, operating hundreds of miles offshore, far from the nearest hospital, working in all kinds of weather presents an industry ripe with risks. The worker or rig hand holds the key to making safe or unsafe decisions. Numerous studies and research projects on worker safety on shore (factories) have been completed through the years. Studies and research on offshore workers has not been as active, particularly on drilling rigs working in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico as other locations. While rig safety has improved over the years through equipment improvement, safety management systems and an emphasis on safety culture (in other words process safety), injury rates have leveled. Understanding why rig hands make decisions that affect their safety or others may be the key to lowering the injury rates further. This research is designed to ascertain with all the management systems, training, safety leadership, and automated equipment in place, rig hands continue to make unsafe decisions that lead to near misses, unsafe acts, incidents and injuries on a modern drilling rig. A successful research design study might provide a model for further research within the company and offshore industry. Is it an individual choice? Is it Safety Culture? Is it a combination? What does a working rig with a robust safety culture look like?