Celebrating seven safe years on Rig 123

Trinidad Drilling Rig 123

Rig 123, not only an impressive 1500 HP Triple, but also our longest no recordable incidents record holder in the US at seven years (and counting).

Since their start with Trinidad Drilling on Rig 100 in 2005, Rig Managers Dustin Ulcak and Nathan McDonald have seen the company grow from 22 rigs in our US division to 66 rigs today.

Although Ulcak has thoroughly enjoyed every teal green rig he’s worked on in his 11 years with us, he’ll be the first to admit there’s something special about the culture and crews on Rig 123.

“… I look forward to coming to work each hitch. When a man looks forward to going to work, it’s ‘cause he knows it’s a safe and enjoyable place to be.”

When we asked Ulcak about Rig 123’s seven year safety success, it was obvious from the input he received from the crew that they too would describe the rig’s culture as something out of the ordinary.

Read on as Ulcak shares five of the crews’ tried and true tips on keeping everyone safe over the past seven years.

1. Creating a welcoming atmosphere

The crews on 123 have each other’s backs – always have and always will. As you can imagine, Rig 123 has seen many come and go during its seven safe years. But with the changing faces and landscapes, the welcoming atmosphere stays the same. The reason? They truly are one big happy family.

“Being a family on the rig is like being a family at home. At home, you watch every move your kids make and are a part of everything they do. It’s the same out here with a group of brothers that you don’t want to see anything happen to,” explained Ulcak.

Trinidad Drilling Rig 123 Rig Manager Dustin Ulcak and Crews
Dustin Ulcak and his crews

2. Effective “rig talk” between crews

Part of creating a family-like atmosphere on the rigs is having one another’s best interests at heart. This, according to Ulcak, is shown in the crews’ “rig talk”.

“The rig talk between these four crews is like no other I’ve seen or heard of before.”

“Rig talk” for the crews on Rig 123 starts with daily safety meetings on upcoming operations where everyone gets a chance to provide their safety input. In these meetings, the crew is updated on job specifics and provided game plans on completing the work safely.

But this so called “rig talk” doesn’t end when the safety meetings conclude nor does it end when the hitch is over.

“…from the Relief Rig Manager staying over to help new hands to the Drillers talking to each other as one starts and the other leaves. They all stay in touch with each other from the moment one makes it home safely till the last arrives at work.”

This continuous communication between teams has built both a brotherhood and an unwavering safety culture on Rig 123.

“There was no A team or D team. This rig has become what it is with a lot of work and help from each other,” said Ulcak.

Trinidad Drilling Rig 123 Rig Manager Nathan McDonald and crews
Nathan McDonald and his crews

3. Strong Drillers leading the pack

The Drillers on Rig 123 have become impressive safety leaders, says Ulcak. Applauding them for tackling new obstacles by asking plenty of questions before jumping into the new task to ensure the crew knows what to expect.

Rig 123 has four Drillers in total, two of which have been on the rig for more than five years. Even with changing faces over the years, Ulcak believes the teams fall right in with each other like there’s no change at all if Drillers have to switch crews.

“When a Driller gains the trust of his men and knows they will uphold safety when he’s not around, they know they’ve done their job as a leader.”

4. Maintaining a unified safety culture and keeping an open mind

In his fifteen years in the industry, Ulcak has pushed different rigs, managed many different crews and has seen safety evolve. And with each new experience has come a wealth of safety tips and tricks. In his experience, listening to and incorporating safety tips that have worked for other crews on other rigs is just one of the reasons this rig has had so many safe years.

“Every chance I got to go to a different rig was a chance to learn new ways of looking at the safety program and see how they reacted to it and how it worked for them. I was given the chance to work for the best field superintendents along the way that were always willing to help with a rig issue or safety question.”

5. Hard working crews make all the difference

Ulcak admits keeping everyone safe is no simple undertaking. Working through the heat of summer, the cold of winter, adapting to changing industry conditions and leaving loved ones can be a struggle but the guys on Rig 123 make all the difference in the world.

“It takes a great bunch of men to put up with all this; but staying together as best they can has helped them achieve a goal that not many have ever been a part of…”

“…All of this is only possible due to the men on this rig that put in those hours and never looked back. So I want to thank every one of ya’ll from 123 for making this rig what it is today.”

Feeling inspired and looking for more Trinidad safety success stories? Check out these great posts:

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