Even then, I cannot explain the rush of relief I used to feel at the end of every six weeks when we were choppered out of the helipad to shore, and on to Nepal to be with the family. Six weeks later, we had to be back, and I used to whisper a little prayer before boarding the helicopter that would drop me back on the rig again.
For 13 long years, my life was a cycle every 54 days that alternated between the longest six weeks on the oil rig that felt like eternity, and the shortest six weeks in Nepal that went by in the blink of an eye.
A big part of my job entailed training workers to be safe, but it was difficult to guarantee that they implemented all that was being taught. As workers, it is natural for many to look for shortcuts, but in this sector, shortcuts can cost lives.
So, I tried to use as many personal stories as possible to humanise the consequence of such accidents that are common in the oil business. Showing a picture of someone’s daughter unable to hold her father’s fingers who lost them during a workplace injury communicated the need for precautions more than me giving a dry lecture, for example.
The kind of risks rig workers including Nepalis had to take such as balancing high on off-shore scaffolding were beyond comprehension. But I am grateful that during my time as a safety adviser, there were no fatalities in the projects I oversaw.
Read also: Diaspora Diaries 2, Nepali Times