Posts Tagged ‘falls’

Per yesterday’s post, below are US OCS fatality data from a 2014 presentation. Ten year intervals were selected for 1975-2004. The longer 1953-1974 era was selected so the activity indicators (well starts and production) would be comparable with the next 3 intervals. The last interval (2005-2013) was limited because the presentation was prepared in 2014.

Fire/explosion fatalities exceeded fall/struck fatalities only in the first interval (1953-1974). As one would expect, the fire/explosion deaths were associated with a limited number of better known incidents (e.g. Main Pass 41, Bay Marchand, Macondo). While the overall trend is favorable, fall/struck incidents and helicopter fatalities at offshore platforms have proven to be more chronic.

I hope to update these data in the not too distant future.




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The most common causes of offshore fatalities and serious injuries, falls and being struck by equipment, receive little media attention because there is no blowout, oil spill, or fire. However, these are often the most difficult types of incidents to understand and prevent. Human and organizational factors predominate, and prevention is dependent on a strong culture that emphasizes worker engagement, awareness, teamwork and mutual support, effective training and employee development, risk assessment at the job, facility, company, and industry levels, stop-work authority, innovation, and continuous improvement.

This new BSEE Safety Alert addresses such a fatal incident on the Pacific Khamsin drilling rig, and makes recommendations that have widespread applicability.

Incident summary:

While unlatching the lower Marine Riser Package from the Blowout Preventor in preparation for ship relocation, a crewmember was lifted into the air after being struck by a hydraulic torque wrench (HTW), hitting a riser clamp approximately six feet above the elevated work deck before falling to the rig floor. The crew member was given first aid and transported to the drillship’s hospital, where he was later pronounced deceased.

In an upcoming post, BOE will provide historical fatality data by cause and operations category.

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Important BSEE safety alert – barricades and fall protection

hazardous grating

I never liked the label “slips, trips, and falls” because it trivializes serious safety incidents. Falls don’t get headlines, but they kill workers. In the 10 years prior to Macondo, falls were the leading cause of Gulf of Mexico fatalities. 17 workers died from fall incidents during that period. Related incidents associated with falling or moving equipment (15) and lifting operations (5) accounted for another 20 fatalities. There was only one fire related fatality.

Unfortunately, BSEE’s posted incident data are incomplete, so more detailed, company specific analysis is difficult. No incident summaries whatsoever are posted for 2001-2012 and 2021, and 2020 fatalities are only described as “occupational” or “non-occupational.”

BSEE does do a very good job with their safety alert program, and has repeatedly expressed concerns about chronic grating and fall issues. 2022 Safety Alerts 438 and 427, and 8 other BSEE alerts issued within the last 3 years (nos. 353, 365, 378, 389, 399, 409, 416, 423) addressed grating and falls. BSEE has also conducted blitz inspections to identify problem facilities, and the Coast Guard has repeatedly raised concerns about grating and fall protection.

Per BSEE Safety Alert 365, grating, open hole, and fall prevention safety measures were seriously deficient at many of the facilities visited during their blitz inspections in 2019. The prevention of fall incidents requires the full commitment of management. Some companies are clearly not making that commitment.

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Yesterday, BSEE issued investigation reports for 2 of the fatal 2020 incidents. Both of these incidents involved falls, a chronic and preventable cause of offshore worker casualties. Not enough industry and trade association attention is given to such incidents, which have been trivialized in the past by categorizing them as “slips, trips, and falls.” The reports are linked below:

The reports describe how the incidents occurred and what we can do better to prevent similar events in the future. Despite the advance in safety management programs over the past 30 years, there has been no discernible improvement in preventing these incidents. We need to rethink training programs, planning, and methods. Deadly falls are not inevitable.

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