Manual Pipe Tongs Are Directly Responsible For Over 10% Of All Lost Time Drilling Rig Accidents
Most Common Manual Tong Injuries
- Mashed hands and fingers
- Being struck by the pipe tongs
- Small particles of tong die shrapnel embedded in the face or eyes because eye protection was not worn
- Deaths or serious injuries resulting from tong or tong head failureFloorhands need to be responsible for inspecting tongs each day. (Usually if time is permitting it's a good idea to inspect tongs at tour beginning.)
- To begin inspection start by putting on eye protection and gloves
- Open the jaws of the pipe tongs and wire brush or steam off the tong dies
- Inspect the dies for wear
- Look for cracked, chipped or uneven wear of tong dies
- Examine tong dies for sharpness. Many accidents are caused because tong dies slip on the tool joint when make-up or break out torque is applied.
- Check that die retainers are in place (usually small nuts and bolts)
Changing Tong Dies
- Wear eye and hand protection
- With a helper to steady the tongs, remove tong die retainers
- Place the die driver in the slot of the die to be removed and drive it downwards with a small hammer (It's a good idea to drape a rag over the tong die to stop any flying particles
- Do not use a chisel to remove tong dies
- Clean the slot you just removed the tong die from. It is a good idea to apply a little pipe dope to its surface,then place a new tong die in the slot and gently tap it into place
- Don't forget to reinstall all of the retainers
Give Pipe Tongs A Through Inspection
- Raise tongs to a comfortable position to kneel and examine the underside
- Check each of the pins that fasten the tong heads to the body of the tongs
- Check that pins are secure and safety pins are in place
- Check the clevises that fasten the snub-line to the tong- make sure they are secure
- Check that each clevisehas a safety pin behind each nut
- Examine the snub-line itself for wear and that the inspection tag in place
- Check the condition of the cathead cable on the break out tongs- if badly worn replace it
- Clean and grease the tongs as part of your daily routine
Every week it's a good idea to steam off tongs and tong heads, give them a thoroug visual inspection for any small visible cracks. Although not a substitute for a proper X-Ray inspection, anything you find may just save your life
Drill Pipe Tong Safety-Red Zone Danger
The entire area around the pipe tongs can be a dangerous place. Here are some safety tips
- If your not operating the tongs, you don't need to be in this area at all! If you are the worker operating the tongs you need to be aware of the point where each snub-line limits the tongs movement
- When your tongs are "BIT" its always best to step back a foot or so in case they slip on the tool joint.This is a danger you always need to be aware of
- Resting your body against the lever of the tongs while they work is just asking for trouble. It's common to see hands ride the tongs when tired. Don't do it
The greatest danger area is the red "Hazardous Area"
In this area the motorman normally assists the floorhands in pulling their tongs back
A pull back rope needs to be attached to each set of tongs so the motorman is clear of this area when assisting.
The entire process is simple and safe if you just remember one thing
MAKE 'EM BITE THEN GET OUT OF THE WAY!
It really is that simple.
Always be aware of where you are in relationship to the tongs.
A few more important thoughts to remember that are actually just common sense
- Keep your body, hands and fingers away from pinch points
- Don't get caught between the tongs and the stump
- If your responsible for latching the elevators and the tongs are swinging in towards you, let go and get your hands out of there. Save your fingers to latch another day!