Occupational Health and Safety Code

The Occupational Health and Safety Code provides specific technical health and safety rules and requirements for Alberta workplaces.

Alberta Regulation 191/2021

Part 37 Oil and Gas Wells

Contents

 

Application

 

750

This Part applies to activities and auxiliary processes associated with exploring for and drilling, operating or servicing wells for gas, crude oil or geothermal energy.

 

Competent supervisor

 

751(1)

An employer must appoint a supervisor to supervise an exploration, drilling, servicing, snubbing, testing or production operation.

751(2)

An employer must ensure the supervisor is competent in each of the following that is within the supervisor’s area of responsibility:

(a) safe work practices, including the safe operation of a plant at the work site;

(b) the safe handling, use and storage of hazardous substances;

(c) well control and blow out prevention;

(d) detecting and controlling worker exposure to hydrogen sulphide;

(e) handling, using, maintaining and storing personal protective equipment;

(f) appropriate responses to emergencies at the work site;

(g) the duties and responsibilities of all workers supervised by the supervisor;

(h) training workers supervised by the supervisor in safe work practices and procedures;

(i) health and safety programs.

 

Breathing equipment

 

752(1)

If a worker is undertaking emergency response activities at a well site and the worker may be exposed to a harmful substance in excess of its occupational exposure limit, an employer must ensure that sufficient self contained breathing apparatus units that comply with section 251 are provided, based on the hazard assessment required by Part 2 and the emergency response plan required by Part 7.

752(2)

Despite subsection (1), if there is only one worker at the well site, an employer may use alternate means to protect the worker to ensure that the worker is not exposed to a harmful substance in excess of its occupational exposure limit.

 

Operating load of derrick or mast

 

753(1)

An employer must ensure that the maximum safe operating load of a derrick or mast

(a) is specified in the manufacturer’s specifications or specifications certified by a professional engineer,

(b) is prominently displayed on the derrick or mast, and

(c) is not exceeded.

753(2)

If a structural modification or repair is made to a derrick or mast, an employer must ensure that

(a) the structural modification or repair is certified by a professional engineer,

(b) the maximum safe operating load of the derrick or mast is determined and certified by a professional engineer, and

(c) the load marking on the derrick or mast is replaced if the maximum safe operating load is changed.

 

Derricks and masts

 

754(1)

An employer must ensure that, before a derrick or mast is erected or brought down, a competent worker inspects all of its parts in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications.

754(2)

An employer must ensure that

(a) a competent worker is in charge of a derrick or mast and present when a derrick or mast is erected or brought down, and

(b) a derrick or mast is erected or brought down in a manner that does not create a danger to workers.

 

Log book

 

755(1)

An employer must ensure that inspections and repairs on a derrick or mast are recorded in a log book issued by the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors or its equivalent.

755(2)

An employer must ensure that the log book is available at the work site for review by an officer.

 

Drillers

 

756(1)

An employer must ensure that the driller’s position on a drilling or service rig is protected or guarded from hazards created by the cathead or tong lines.

756(2)

An employer must ensure that workers do not slide down a pipe, kelly hose, cable or rope on a derrick or mast unless the line is part of a means of escape and there is an emergency.

756(3)

A worker must not slide down a pipe, kelly hose, cable or rope on a derrick or mast unless the line is part of a means of escape and there is an emergency.

 

Geophysical operations

 

757

An employer must ensure that, during operations involving shot hole drilling,

(a) repealed,

(b) the mast of the seismic drill is lowered if the equipment being moved is in danger of contacting an overhead power line or losing its stability, and

(c) the seismic drill has an emergency stopping device at the driller’s console.

 

Drilling rig, service rig, and snubbing unit inspections

 

758(1)

An employer must ensure that the drilling rig, service rig or snubbing unit is inspected by a competent worker

(a) before it is placed into service, and

(b) every 7th day on which it is used for as long as it is in service.

758(2)

The competent worker must prepare a report of the inspection and the employer must keep a copy of the report

(a) at the work site where the drilling rig, service rig or snubbing unit is in service, and

(b) at the employer’s principal place of business in Alberta for at least one year from the date of the inspection.

 

Overloaded service rig trucks

 

759

An employer may operate a service rig truck with a load that exceeds the manufacturer’s specifications for the maximum weight of the load if the employer

(a) prepares a written assessment of the hazards relating to the operation of the truck, and

(b) implements controls that ensure the safe operation of the truck.

 

Safety check

 

760

An employer must ensure that no worker services or works on a drilling rig, service rig or snubbing unit until a competent worker ensures that

(a) all guards are installed and secure,

(b) all platforms, stairways, handrails and guardrails are installed and secure,

(c) the emergency escape line and its components are installed and secure, and

(d) all fastening devices required in the erection of the rig and its substructure are installed and secure.

 

Exits from enclosures

 

761(1)

An employer must ensure that a drilling rig, service rig or snubbing unit floor enclosure has exits to ground level that

(a) are located on at least 2 sides of the drilling or service rig floor,

(b) open away from the drill hole, and

(c) have no obstacles that would hinder or prevent a worker who is leaving in an emergency.

761(2)

An employer must ensure that a pumphouse enclosure has at least 2 exits leading in different directions to the outside.

761(3)

An employer must ensure that a catwalk on a drilling rig, service rig or snubbing unit has a stairway at the end farthest from the drill hole.

 

Emergency escape route

 

762(1)

If a primary exit from the principal working platform above the drill floor may be blocked or otherwise compromised, an employer must ensure there is an emergency means of escape from the principal working platform that

(a) is visually inspected by a competent worker at least once a week, and

(b) is kept free of obstructions.

762(2)

If the emergency means of escape includes using an anchored line, the employer must ensure the line is

(a) installed, tested and maintained according to the manufacturer’s specifications, and

(b) able to successfully withstand a pull test load of 13.3 kilonewtons at the time of its installation.

762(3)

If an emergency escape safety buggy is used as part of the emergency means of escape, the employer must ensure it is

(a) installed and maintained according to the manufacturer’s specifications,

(b) kept at the principal working platform when not in use, and

(c) easily accessible to workers in an emergency.

 

Guy lines

 

763(1)

An employer must ensure that derrick, mast or self contained snubbing unit guy lines are installed in accordance with

(a) the manufacturer’s specifications, or

(b) API Recommended Practice RP 4G, Recommended Practice for Maintenance and Use of Drilling and Well Servicing Structures (2004).

763(2)

An employer must ensure that the specifications applied under subsection (1) for the correct number and proper spacing of guy lines are on a plate attached to the derrick, mast or self contained snubbing unit.

 

Ground anchors

 

764(1)

An employer must ensure that ground anchors are pull tested annually in accordance with

(a) API Recommended Practice RP 4G, Recommended Practice for Maintenance and Use of Drilling and Well Servicing Structures (2004), or

(b) the manufacturer’s specifications, or

(c) specifications certified by a professional engineer.

764(2)

An employer must ensure that the pull test charts for temporary and permanent ground anchors are readily available for inspection by an officer.

 

Trailer pipe rack

 

765(1)

An employer must ensure that a trailer that is used as a pipe rack

(a) has guardrails and toe boards along the full length of both sides of the trailer,

(b) has a stairway at the end farthest from the drilling or service rig floor, and

(c) is constructed so that the lower end of the pipe does not roll off the trailer when the pipe is hoisted into the derrick.

765(2)

An employer must ensure that a trailer used as a pipe rack is secured from movement.

765(3)

Moved to section 762(3).

 

Drawworks

 

766(1)

An employer must ensure that the function or action of each operating control on a drilling rig, service rig or self contained snubbing unit is clearly marked on or near the control.

766(2)

A worker in charge of the drawworks must ensure that all other workers are clear of the machinery and lines before the drawworks is put into motion.

 

Brakes

 

767(1)

An employer must ensure that a mechanism used to hold the drawworks brakes of a drilling or service rig in the “on” position is designed so that the brakes cannot be accidentally disengaged.

767(2)

An employer must ensure that the drawworks brakes of a drilling or service rig are tested at the beginning of each crew shift and examined at least weekly to ensure they are in good working order.

767(3)

Unless drawworks have an automatic feed control, an employer must ensure that drawworks brakes are not left unattended without first being secured in the “on” position.

767(4)

An employer must ensure that, except during drilling, drawworks controls are not left unattended while the hoisting drum is in motion.

 

Weight indicators

 

768

An employer must ensure that the hoist mechanism of a drilling or service rig has a reliable weight indicator that

(a) is secured against falling by a secondary cable or chain if it is hung above the derrick or mast floor, and

(b) is calibrated in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications or at least annually if a minimum interval between calibrations is not stated by the manufacturer.

 

Travelling blocks

 

769(1)

An employer must ensure that each hook of a travelling block has a safety latch, mousing, shackle or equivalent positive locking device.

769(2)

An employer must ensure that the travelling block and each hook, elevator, elevator link and unit of travelling equipment is free from projecting bolts, nuts, pins or other parts.

769(3)

An employer must ensure that an upward travel limiting device

(a) is installed on every drilling or service rig and is tested at least once during each shift, and

(b) prevents the travelling block from contacting the crown structure by disengaging the power to the hoisting drum and applying brakes.

 

Tugger or travelling block

 

770(1)

Subject to subsection (2), an employer must ensure that a worker does not use a travelling block or a tugger to raise or lower a worker unless the manufacturer’s specifications allow the travelling block or tugger to be used in that way.

770(2)

Subsection (1) does not apply in an emergency if

(a) an injured worker is lowered from a derrick using a travelling block or a tugger,

(b) the rotary table is stopped, and

(c) a competent worker trained in emergency procedures operates the control of the travelling block or tugger.

 

Catheads

 

771(1)

An employer must ensure that workers do not use a rope operated friction cathead on a drilling or service rig.

771(2)

A worker must not use a rope operated friction cathead on a drilling or service rig.

771(3)

An employer must ensure that each automatic cathead has a separate control unless

(a) the cathead has dual purpose controls, and

(b) a locking device is installed to prevent one cathead from being engaged accidentally while another cathead is in operation.

771(4)

Despite subsections (1) and (2), a worker may use a rope operated friction cathead for hoisting before January 1, 2005 if

(a) a cathead on which a rope is manually operated has a blunt, smooth edged rope divider,

(b) the clearance between a rope divider and the friction surface of a cathead is not more than 7 millimetres,

(c) every key seat and projecting key on a cathead is covered with a smooth thimble or plate,

(d) the clearance between the outer flange of a cathead and any substructure, guardrail or wall is at least 500 millimetres,

(e) a competent worker handles the drawworks control while a cathead is in use,

(f) the operating area of a manually operated cathead is kept clear at all times, and

(g) the portion of a rope or line that is not being used is coiled or spooled.

771(5)

A worker who operates a rope operated friction cathead must not

(a) leave a rope or line wrapped around or in contact with an unattended cathead, or

(b) allow a splice to come in contact with the friction surface of the cathead.

 

Racking pipes

 

772(1)

An employer must ensure that provision is made for completely draining fluids from standing drill pipes, drill collars and tubing racked in a derrick.

772(2)

An employer must ensure that drill pipes, drill collars, tubing, casing and rods racked in a derrick or mast are secured and cannot fall out of or across the derrick or mast.

 

Rotary table danger zone

 

773(1)

An employer must ensure that a danger zone is established and clearly marked around a rotary table used in a drilling operation.

773(2)

When a rotary table is in motion during an operation, a worker must not enter the danger zone or allow other equipment or loose materials to enter the danger zone.

773(3)

Despite subsection (2), a worker is permitted within the rotary table danger zone only during non drilling operations and only once a hazard assessment as required by Part 2 is completed.

773(4)

If a worker is within the rotary table danger zone while the rotary table is in motion, the employer must ensure that

(a) the table is restricted to a slow rate of speed and is under the continuous control of a designated driller positioned at the table controls,

(b) the area around the rotary table is clear of any equipment that may contact the rotating equipment,

(c) all workers positioning slips or tongs remain clear of rotating equipment,

(d) all lines attached to tongs are placed outside of the direct line of rotating slips,

(e) the worker’s clothing and personal protective equipment is in good repair and fits closely to the body, and

(f) the worker does not wear bracelets, rings, dangling neckwear, a wristwatch or similar articles.

773(5)

Prior to initiating or resuming drilling operations, the employer must ensure that all workers are positioned outside of the rotary table danger zone and that all auxiliary equipment is stored clear of the danger zone.

 

Tong safety

 

774

An employer must ensure that a rotary tong has

(a) a primary device that prevents uncontrolled movement of the tong, and

(b) a safety device that prevents uncontrolled movement of the tong if the primary device fails.

 

Counterweights

 

775

An employer must ensure that a counterweight above a derrick or mast floor cannot come within 2.3 metres of the floor if the counterweight is not

(a) fully encased, or

(b) running in permanent guides.

 

Drilling fluid

 

776(1)

An employer must ensure that, when workers are pumping drilling fluid,

(a) a positive displacement pump and its attachments have valves, pipes and fittings rated equal to or greater than the pump’s maximum working pressure,

(b) a positive displacement pump is protected against freezing,

(c) a pressure relief device is installed on the discharge side of a positive displacement pump,

(d) a valve is not installed between a pressure relief device and a positive displacement pump,

(e) piping on the discharge side of a pressure relief device does not have a valve,

(f) a pressure relief device is set to discharge at a pressure that is not more than the maximum working pressure recommended by the manufacturer for the drilling fluid pump, connecting pipes and fittings,

(g) shear pins used in a pressure relief device are of the design and strength specified in the manufacturer’s specifications,

(h) the fluids or materials discharged through a pressure relief device are piped to a place where they will not endanger workers,

(i) piping connected to the pressure side and discharge side of a pressure relief device is not smaller than the normal pipe size openings of the device,

(j) piping on the discharge side of the pressure relief device is secured,

(k) piping from the discharge side of the pressure relief device is continuously sloped to drain liquids, and

(l) piping going vertically on a relief line is heated or installed in a heated environment.

776(2)

An employer must ensure that the manufacturer’s specifications and recommendations are followed under subsection (1) unless a professional engineer certifies otherwise.

776(3)

An employer must ensure that a mud gun used for jetting is secured to prevent movement.

776(4)

An employer must ensure that a worker does not use a “quick closing” type of valve on the discharge line of a positive displacement pump.

776(5)

A worker must not use a “quick closing” type of valve on the discharge line of a positive displacement pump.

 

Rig tank or pit enclosures

 

777(1)

An employer must ensure that a rig tank or pit used for the circulation of drilling fluids containing flammable or combustible material is protected from sources of ignition.

777(2)

An employer must ensure that a rig tank or pit that is enclosed

(a) is properly vented, and

(b) that vented vapours are directed away from ignition sources.

 

Prohibition on fuel storage

 

778(1)

An employer must ensure that fuel is not stored within 25 metres of a well.

778(2)

A worker must not store fuel within 25 metres of a well.

778(3)

Subsections (1) and (2) do not apply to diesel fuel provided that

(a) it is used solely as fuel for machinery operating at the well,

(b) it is stored in fully enclosed storage containers,

(c) no more than 8000 litres total is stored in the storage containers, and

(d) it is more than 7 metres away from the well.

 

Drill stem testing

 

779(1)

This section applies to drill stem testing operations.

779(2)

An employer must ensure that after fluids are encountered while tripping out, workers use the mud can and test plug on every joint of pipe disconnected, unless the drill stem contents have been pumped out and replaced with drilling fluid.

779(3)

An employer must ensure that

(a) workers test for the presence of hydrogen sulphide and hydrocarbons if oil, water or gas is encountered during the drill stem testing, and

(b) if hydrogen sulphide is present, the sour fluids in the drill stem are displaced with drilling fluid and circulated to a flare pit or a holding tank that is at least 50 metres from the well.

779(4)

An employer must ensure that

(a) motors and engines not required in the testing operation are shut off, and

(b) there are no motor vehicles within 25 metres of the well bore.

779(5)

An employer must ensure that, if swivel joints are used in the piping system, workers secure the source and discharge ends of the piping system in a manner that prevents pipes that are separated from the source or discharge connection from whipping or flailing.

779(6)

An employer must ensure that, if test fluid recovery is encountered during darkness,

(a) liquids are reverse circulated, or

(b) if reverse circulation is not practicable because the pump out sub has failed, additional drill pipe is not pulled and disconnected until daylight.

 

Well swabbing

 

780(1)

This section applies to well swabbing operations.

780(2)

An employer must ensure that during swabbing operations,

(a) workers anchor auxiliary swabbing units securely against movement,

(b) fluids are piped directly to a battery, skid tank, mobile trailer or tank truck, and

(c) the battery, skid tank, mobile trailer or tank truck is at least 50 metres from the well bore.

780(3)

An employer must ensure that if fluids are piped to a tank truck during swabbing operations,

(a) the engine of the truck is shut off, and

(b) the driver is not in the cab of the truck while fluids are transferred.

780(4)

A person must not be in the cab of a truck while fluids are transferred to the truck during swabbing operations.

780(5)

Repealed.

780(6)

If workers are well swabbing during darkness, an employer must ensure that

(a) there is auxiliary lighting providing a minimum illumination level of 54 lux measured 500 millimetres above the travel surface,

(b) rig lighting is turned off if it is not designed for use in an explosive atmosphere,

(c) sandline flags are illuminated and acid resistant,

(d) wind direction indicators are illuminated and appropriately located around the site, and

(e) workers use atmospheric monitoring equipment.

 

Well servicing

 

781(1)

This section applies to well servicing operations.

781(2)

An employer must ensure that

(a) when circulating hydrocarbons, the air intake and exhaust of the pump motor are located at least 6 metres away from the rig tank,

(b) if a tank truck is being loaded or unloaded, it is at least 6 metres away from the rig tank in a direction away from the well bore, and

(c) carbon dioxide suction lines are secured to the supply vehicle and pumping unit.

781(3)

An employer must ensure that, before pressurization begins, warning signs prohibiting the presence of workers in the area and, complying with CSA Standard CAN/CSA‑Z321‑96 (R2006), Signs and Symbols for the Workplace, are positioned along the discharge pipelines.

781(4)

An employer must ensure that, before fluids are unloaded into the well head, workers hydraulically pressure test the lines between the pump and the well head for 10 minutes

(a) to at least 10 percent above the maximum pressure anticipated during service, but

(b) not above the working pressure rating of the line.

781(5)

An employer must ensure that the controls on oil savers can be readily operated by a worker on the rig floor.

781(6)

An employer must ensure that when a snubbing unit conducts gas assisted sand clean out, it is done only by a competent worker, during daylight hours and using equipment intended for that activity.

 

Well stimulation

 

782(1)

This section applies to well stimulation or a similar operation.

782(2)

An employer must ensure that if a working pressure of 2000 kilopascals or more is applied to the piping system,

(a) workers establish the area between a pump or sand concentrator and the well head as a potential danger area,

(b) workers control equipment located between a pump or sand concentrator and the well head outside the potential danger area, and

(c) subject to subsection (3), workers do not enter that potential danger area when the system is pressurized.

782(3)

Subject to section 188, an employer may permit a worker to enter the potential danger area to operate the bleed off valve or squeeze manifold if the pump is disengaged before that worker enters the potential danger area.

782(4)

An employer must ensure that

(a) while workers are using liquid carbon dioxide or liquid nitrogen, the pumping unit is positioned so that the valve controls are on the side opposite to the pipe supplying the well,

(b) a check valve is installed as close as is practical to the well head except while cementing or selective acidizing is occurring,

(c) if flammable fluids are being pumped during fracturing and acidizing treatment, fire protection equipment capable of extinguishing a fire that may occur is provided on pumping units, including blenders and coiled tubing units,

(d) a worker does not use the mud line from the cement truck in place of the circulating line, and

(e) a bleed off valve is installed between a check valve and the well head.

 

Well site piping system

 

783(1)

An employer must ensure that piping systems installed and maintained at a well site

(a) are designed, constructed, installed, operated and maintained to safely contain any material at the maximum operating pressures anticipated,

(b) meet the requirements of ANSI/ASME Standard B1.20.1‑1983 (R2006), Pipe Threads, General Purpose (Inch), for threaded connections,

(c) are anchored during well testing, servicing and flowback in accordance with section 188, and

(d) have connections that are welded, flanged or hammer unions if pressures exceed 3000 kilopascals.

783(2)

Subsection (1) does not apply to low pressure water, steam, fuel, lubrication, pneumatic or conduit lines if the low pressure lines are clearly distinguishable from high pressure lines.

 

Gas sample containers

 

784

An employer must ensure that containers, piping and fittings used in collecting gas samples are

(a) strong enough to withstand all the pressures to which they may be subjected, and

(b) designed, used and transported in such a way that their contents cannot be released accidentally.