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The term "extraction worker" is extremely broad; it refers to any professional involved in extracting resources from the ground or the sea. Members of an oil rig crew are extraction workers, as are miners and anyone else who drills, siphons or otherwise removes material from the ground or ocean.
Extraction workers often work with heavy, dangerous drilling equipment such as gigantic drills and boring tools. If an extraction worker needs to reach a resource located deep beneath the surface of the earth, he or she may use a series of depth charges to quite literally blow holes in the ground.
The specific tasks required of an extraction worker depend almost entirely on the type of material being extracted and the environment from which it must be removed. Extraction workers in the mining industry design mine layouts, organize the transport of machinery into and out of the mine, conduct safety inspections and drills, monitor the volume of material extracted, and communicate with administrators and executives from the mining company headquarters.
Extraction workers in mining scenarios are often charged with keeping the other miners safe. To do that, they must understand the physics of tunnelling into the specific type of ground in question, and determine what measures will be effective safeguards against a catastrophic mine collapse. In the United States and many other developed countries, extraction workers accomplish this using the "long wall" strategy, which uses an enormous grinding machine to shave long, narrow strips of rock and pulverize the material, which is carried up to the entrance on a lengthy conveyor belt. Long wall mining is the safest mining strategy yet developed because it uses a series of huge hydraulic buttresses to support the tunnel roof in areas that have already been mined. These supports provide a guarantee against potentially fatal ceiling collapses.
An extraction worker on an oil rig may monitor the flow of oil, adjust the speed or position of the drilling arm, check for malfunctions throughout the rig and document the volume of oil pumped each day. The most extreme oil-related extraction positions call for immersion diving, which means that workers descend to the ocean floor inside a diving bell and live on the sea floor for up to one month at a time. Because their diving bell is pressurized to the same degree as the ambient pressure on the ocean floor, the divers can come and go as they please without the danger of decompression sickness. Immersion diving saves time and money; it's also less stressful on the human body than repeated cycles of compression and decompression.
Extraction workers commonly work in oil fields, coal mines and other outdoor locals. These environments may be sweltering in the summer and freezing in wintertime.
Workers may also have to collaborate with others who do not speak the same language fluently, or whose perspective on etiquette differs substantially from their own. These issues can cause havoc in a cramped diving bell hundreds of feet below the surface of the ocean. Extraction workers must do their utmost to respect everyone around them and foster mutual respect. Safety will be jeopardized if this does not happen.
An extraction worker should be comfortable working with dangerous, potentially flammable substances such as oil, coal and natural gas. Those interested in immersion diving need to be in good physical condition and have considerable diving experience before applying for the job.
Extraction workers must be able to remain calm and level-headed in panicked, dangerous emergency situations and should be intimately familiar with the safety hazards and regulations relevant to their current situation. Most extraction workers spend the bulk of their work hours outside, often in very remote and inhospitable locations such as ocean floors, deserts and mountain peaks.
Consequently, ideal applicants to these positions should have no chronic medical conditions (e.g. diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) that could put them in even more danger. Furthermore, many extraction workers must travel frequently and may be posted at a remote job site for months at a time. This may be a particular concern for workers with spouses and small children.
An extraction worker should also be comfortable using hand tools, have excellent hand-eye coordination and clear vision with excellent depth perception. Many extraction workers must sometimes dismantle equipment, repair it or replace it without outside help. Communication is another vital skill; extraction workers are generally part of a sizeable team that must be coordinated and directed to produce optimum results as safely as possible. The most senior extraction worker must be comfortable giving directions and communicating via radio; consequently, he or she must also have an excellent working knowledge of standardized radio communication protocol. This will allow him or her to communicate precisely and succinctly with the other workers.