Health, Safety and Incident Risk Management

Our goal is to provide an incident-free work environment. It takes everyone at the jobsite working together as a team to establish safe work practices and achieve this goal.

Our managers and supervisors are accountable for the safety of our people and committed to ensuring that they have safe working equipment, required personal protection equipment (PPE) and training for their tasks. Our HSE professionals, under the oversight of the leaders of our businesses, and in turn, our executive management, including our chief executive officer, have developed the Patterson-UTI Health, Safety and Environment management systems to document the policies, standards and procedures by which we conduct our business in order to achieve these objectives. We carefully monitor our health and safety performance, and our executive management and the Board of Directors regularly review and discuss our safety results, programs, and trends.

We regularly audit and review our HSE performance in all of our businesses. The timing and frequency of these audits is set by an established audit calendar, which is based on the type of audit. Corrective actions are implemented for any non-conformities identified during the audit. Best practices discovered during these audits are shared among our operations teams, HSE professionals, and technical services group so that they can be learned and implemented across our organization.

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Safety and Environment


The safety and well-being of our employees and the protection of our environment is a cornerstone, and we are committed to providing a safe, incident-free work environment for all.

Safety Performance

Because our operations are exclusively onshore in the United States, we measure our safety performance against that of our industry peers who have similar geographical operations. We believe our Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) is among the best in our industry, and our contract drilling TRIR in 2020 was 43% better than the average TRIR for other U.S. onshore contract drillers, as reported to the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC). We had zero employee or contractor fatalities in 2020. In 2020, our employees worked a total of 9,186,400 hours.

Ongoing Safety Training

At Patterson-UTI, we invest in training our employees to be responsible for the safety of their own actions in order to protect themselves, their team members and others. Learning is a core focus. Our training programs, both classroom and on-the-job, give our people a clear path for success right from the start. We coach and we mentor. Continuous learning is our way of life.

graphic showcasing Patterson's commitment to employees

We require all field-based employees to take Employee Safety Orientation (ESO). Courses include content on Behavior-Based Safety, Hazard Awareness, Safe Systems of Work, Permission to Work, Time Out for Safety, Energy Isolation, Hazard Communication (HAZCOM), Material Handling, etc.

Course Name 2020 Attendance
Employee Safety Orientation (ESO) for New Employees >300
Rig Fundamentals >200
Well Operations Training >300
Cold Weather Operations Training >1,900
Hot Weather Operations Training >3,00


Where appropriate, we require contractors to undergo orientation sessions, including safety orientation, prior to working on our jobsites.

Ongoing Assessment of Risk Potential

When assessing risks, all identified hazards are eliminated, if possible. For hazards that cannot be eliminated, our goal is to reduce them as low as reasonably practicable utilizing the hierarchy of controls (Engineering, Administrative, Personal Protective Equipment).

Our employees intentionally and continually assess risk potential to control the expected safe outcome of each task and, prior to performing any job, are instructed in every policy to complete an appropriate level of risk assessment. We expect employees to conduct dynamic risk assessment throughout the job and to exercise the authority to call a Time Out for Safety (TOFS) if identified risks are not mitigated.

Stop Work Authority

The safety of our employees and others is our highest priority. Our employees, contractors, and anyone else on our work locations are empowered to call a Time Out For Safety (TOFS). A TOFS is used when:

Graphic showcasing Patterson's stop-work authority

Our pressure pumping business empowers employees with a similar stop work authority. We believe there is no job worth performing if it cannot be performed safely. Safety meetings and “Energy Circle” briefings are tools we use to identify risks.

Permission to Work

Our Permission to Work program is a formal system of control for all contract drilling and pressure pumping jobsite operations. Our system focuses on the Jobsite Manager’s permission to control the job rather than a permit. Each job task is categorized based on a risk assessment associated with the expected scope of work, hazard associated with the job and the appropriate amount of supervision required. For example, we pre-categorize critical jobs (for example, “hot work” jobs involving welding, cutting, etc.) utilizing a color code system that illustrates the severity of the activities, while defining the appropriate level of supervision. Our Jobsite Manager then verifies the work is ready to begin and gives permission for the job to start by signing the certificate. After completion of the work, the Jobsite Manager must conduct a post job examination of the worksite, close the operation by signing the certificate and conduct a post job review. The goal of this system is to help us to control the outcome of each job in a safe, efficient manner.

Maintaining Our Standards

In our contract drilling and pressure pumping businesses, we routinely evaluate contractors to ensure they meet both Patterson-UTI and our customers’ HSE requirements. In our evaluation process, we review and evaluate contractors prior to hire based on HSE performance statistics, selected HSE policies and procedures, questionnaires, and third-party evaluation systems. This evaluation process assists us in screening contractors and maintaining our standards. We monitor existing contractors’ safety performance in assessing whether to continue contractor relationships.

Industrial Hygiene Management Policy

We understand the importance of occupational health as our employees work in many different environments and conditions. We assess these conditions with industrial hygiene management policies that include: respiratory protection, hearing protection, hazard communication (HAZCOM), weather risk mitigation and industrial hygiene monitoring.

We perform industrial hygiene monitoring to evaluate and document potential exposure to biological, chemical and physical hazards at Patterson-UTI jobsites and facilities, which includes:

  • Workplace hazard assessments conducted for each yard, shop and rig location
  • Crew houses monitored and inspected on a periodic basis
  • Periodic occupational exposure monitoring
  • Temperature monitoring on location

Incident Review and Comprehensive Incident Management System (IMS)

In our contract drilling and pressure pumping businesses, our policies require that any incident, including any near hit, is reported to the manager on location and recorded and tracked into our Incident Management System (IMS). The incident is then reviewed and classified based on its actual and potential severity. The purpose of the IMS program is to establish the requirements for how work-related incidents and near hits are reported, investigated, corrected, recorded and communicated. The IMS program also helps enable assignment of corrective actions, as well as identifying opportunities for communication of lessons learned.

Patterson employees reviewing data together

Cloud-Based Management and Feedback System

We expect our employees to actively participate in crafting our processes and procedures, and we encourage everyone to approach their supervisor with suggestions for improvement and, in our contract drilling business, to use our readily-available computer-based feedback system. Our cloud-based Management System houses the policies, procedures and standards that define the Company’s expectations concerning safety and operational processes. The Management System also includes technical standards, forms, inspections, audits and other supporting documentation for daily operations.

Our contract drilling employees have the opportunity to take ownership of Patterson-UTI policies and procedures by providing direct feedback and/or suggestions using our Policy Improvement Request (PIR) system. If there is a need for clarification or the expansion of existing processes, employees can submit their requests. Since this program started, we have received over 800 Policy Improvement Requests, averaging approximately 100 per year.

Cornerstones for Life

The “Cornerstones for Life” rules provide our employees with extra focus on potentially high-risk activities where we believe failure to follow rules could lead to a much higher probability of serious injury or fatality.

Cornerstones for Life are tailored for our contract drilling and pressure pumping businesses to highlight critical safety expectations at all jobsites. Patterson-UTI employees, contractors and visitors are required to adhere to these rules.

Some examples of Cornerstones for Life in our businesses include:

  • Utilize our permission to work process without fail.
  • Follow our fall protection policy.
  • Properly isolate energy to equipment / lockout tagout when appropriate.
  • Follow appropriate management of change protocols.
  • Take appropriate precautions when working around overhead power lines.
  • Ensure that appropriately sized tubular handling equipment is utilized.
  • Follow our safe driving and fit for duty policies.

Emergency Planning and Response

We have policies and procedures in place to address emergency planning and emergency response. For example, our locations regularly have onsite safety drills, including severe weather and well control drills. Our cloud-based management system contains policies covering safety and emergency response topics, including policies setting forth frequency and type of emergency response drills.

Management of Change

Our Management of Change policy provides a managed systemic approach designed to ensure, to the extent possible, that safety, health, and environmental risks are identified, understood, communicated, controlled, and approved prior to implementing certain changes to our operating procedures and policies. The policy requires that certain operating procedure changes be proposed, reviewed and approved before implementation to reduce the potential for risks resulting from such changes.

COVID-19 Response

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we implemented, and continue to implement, safety protocols at our offices, facilities and worksites. These protocols include allowing many of our office-based employees to work from home, while implementing additional safety measures for employees continuing on-site work.