Oilfield Fatalities-How Are We Dying?

January 19th, 2012

It's early in the new year and already we are seeing a number of catastrophic drilling accidents which include blowouts and deaths. Despite millions being spent by drilling contractors in training and HSE each year, the deadly pattern continues with the latest tragedy being the KS Endeavor platform off the coast of Nigeria where today 2 missing workers were declared "missing and presumed dead" after the drilling rig blow out that occurred while drilling for Chevron.

Tonight I visited the OSHA website (OSHA records accident details for all industries in the United States) wanting to find out just how oilfield fatalities are occurring. Reading and learning from these tragedies are ways to prevent them in the future.

After reading several hours I have highlighted many drilling rig accidents that have been recorded on the OSHA site over the last several years with links to details of each accident below. I look forward to your comments on how we can make drilling wells a safer occupation.

There are several more pages that include oilfield related drilling fatalities so I plan to update this blog over the next few weeks with those details. Please bookmark this page to follow these reports.

Employee Is Killed When Struck By Falling Pipe

Employee #1 was using an air hoist to lift a 12-foot long, 6.25-inch diameter pipe segment that weighed approximately 1,200 pounds onto a drilling platform. The suspended load did not have a tag line, and the chain sling had been wrapped around the pipe, without a shoulder or place to connect the lifting adapter, with a double half-hitch configuration. The load slipped out of the chain sling and struck Employee #1, killing him.

Employee Killed In Fall From Oil Derrick
Employee #1, the derrick man on a drilling rig that was being rigged down, went up the ladder after the cathead line had become entangled as the stabbing board was being lowered. He was observed pulling on the catline and then had a coworker cut the tag line that went to the fall protection line. He was observed pulling on this tag line, and then climbed to a higher elevation, apparently free climbing because the climb assist was stuck. Shortly thereafter, the counterweight to the climb assist was heard coming down the line very fast and then hit the end of the line. Employee #1 lost his grip and fell 50 ft to the oil rig floor. He was killed. The climb assist apparently was entangled with the tag line for the fall protection. When Employee #1 climbed to a higher level, he created slack in the climb assist so that when it came free, it accelerated very rapidly. This caused a shock overload to its pulley, which apparently jerked Employee #1 off the ladder. Employee #1's failure to use the fall protection equipment also contributed to the accident.


Employee Is Killed In Fall From Rig Monkeyboard

Employee #1, the derrickman, disconnected from his fall protection and stepped or fell off the monkeyboard. Employee #1 was killed in the fall. The investigation was in progress at the time this report was written.

Employee Is Killed When Struck By High Pressure Line

Employee #1 was working on a high pressure line. An explosion occurred, causing the line to strike and kill Employee #1.

The Cause:
Employees were using a 600 psi Hammond ball valve in a 5,000 psi PZL (PZL-11) Triplex drilling mud pump (reduced to 4,200 psi) to pump water through the line. The Hammond 600 psi ball valve failed resulting in one employee being hospitalized and one employee fatality injured.

Employee Is Killed When Struck By Drill Pipe Collar

Employee #1, a derrick man, was working the drilling board (monkey board) when a drill pipe collar came loose from the securing chain and struck him in the head. When reached by coworkers, he was determined to be unconscious. Paramedics were unsuccessful in resuscitation, and Employee #1 was pronounced dead at the scene.

Feasible and Acceptable Abatement Methods would include: 1. Ensure that employees are protected from being struck by drill collars due to the stand of drill collars stored in the alley behind the derrick man. 2. Modify the current procedure for securing the drill collars in the alley. 3. Ensure that employees are trained on securing the stand of drill collars, properly.

Employee Is Killed When Crushed By Falling Pipe

Employee #1 was attempting to repair brackets on a pipe rack. He crawled underneath the tubing and the pipe rack collapsed. He was struck on the back by four 30 ft joints of oil well tubing. Employee #1 was asphyxiated.

Employee Is Burned When Oil Well Blows Out, Later Dies

Employee #1 was operating a pump truck supplying fresh water to the cement truck. After the bottom plug was poured, the well started to flow, uncontrollably. The fluids from the well were reaching the tubing board on the rig mast and falling onto the trucks. The fluids ignited burning 40 percent of Employee #1's body. Employee #1 was being treated at a hospital when he died from complications from the burns.

Employee Is Killed When Safety Harness Strikes
Employee #1 was painting a traveling block of an "A" frame of the drilling unit. Following the completion of the job task, Employee #1 disconnected his lanyard and let it dangle below him. As Employee #1 was being lowered by the air hoist, the lanyard and the air line entangled in the rotating kelly on a rig floor. Employee #1 was pulled into the rotating kelly and struck by the safety harness. He was killed.

OSHA Imposed fines and quoted the following:

American Petroleum Institute (API) Recommended Practice 54, August 1999 states in Paragraph 5.5.1 " All personnel, when engaged in work ten feet above the rig floor or other working surfaces, shall be protected at all times from falling by guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems (PFAS). When the employer can demonstrate that it is infeasible or creates a greater hazard to use these systems, the employer shall develop and implement an alternative fall protection plan that provides for personnel safety."

American Petroleum Institute (API) Recommended Practice 54, August 1999 states in Paragraph 6.8.5 "No personnel shall clean, lubricate, or repair any machinery where there is a hazard of contact with moving parts until such machinery has been stopped or such parts have been properly guarded."


Employee Is Killed When Pinned Between Derrick And Wall

A three-person crew was painting a rig derrick/mast that had been removed from its rig floor and placed horizontally on two stands. The crew was lowering the diving board to its storage/resting position, when the diving board section started to jam up and would not lower to its storage/resting position. Employee #1 was trying to get the back wind wall unjammed, when the board fingers pinched his head against the back wind wall, crushing his head. It appeared as though the cable associated with the wench being used to lower the boards had some slack in the line, and, when Employee #1 freed the wind wall, the board fell into its resting position, pinching the employees head between the fingers and the wind wall. Employee #1 was killed.

Employee Is Struck By Falling Oilfield Equipment, Later Dies

Employee #1, the lead operator of a nipple-up crew and two other crew members had completed torquing the bolts on a dry hole tree at the wellhead of a natural gas well and were preparing to exit from the rig's substructure. Another nipple-up employee had erected a pump beneath the substructure to test the wellhead. Two employees of the drilling crew had begun rig-down activities and had lowered one of two elevator links (bail) to the ground using the air tugger. Control of the second of the bails was lost during the lowering operation. The leg of the 0.25-in. chain sling broke and the bail fell, bouncing into the substructure where it struck Employee #1. Employee #1 suffered a laceration to the head, blunt force trauma to the right chest and shoulder, a fractured right leg and internal injuries. Employee #1 was declared dead a few hours after arrival at the hospital.


Employee Is Struck By Falling Steps And Is Killed

Employee #1 was struck by falling steps when the metal steps he was ascending to the drilling platform dislodged and fell. Employee #1 also fell and the steps landed on him. Employee #1 died of asphyxiation.

OSHA Found:
The drilling contractor did not ensure that employees were protected from falls and a crushing hazard due to inadequately secured stairs leading from the drilling platform to the mud tank. One feasible and acceptable method to abate the hazards noted above would be to secure the steps at more than one point.

View the original article here


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