Drillship Fatality Prompts Alert to Offshore Operators
On Wednesday, the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement issued a warning about hazardous work zones after a piece of heavy equipment killed a floorhand on the drillship Petrobras 10000.
On December 2, the deceased – a contractor with Spencer Ogden – was working in a restricted-access "red zone" on the rig floor. He was stationed between a stanchion and the skate, a piece of heavy deck equipment that is used to transfer and lift drill pipe. He had his back to the skate when it moved, and a loading platform on the side of the machine pinned him against the stanchion (below right). The operating clearance between the loading platform and the stanchion was about three inches.
Layout of the rig floor and preliminary location of the employee. Green tape to left of the stanchion marks the green zone (safe area)
“The Spencer Ogden employee received immediate medical attention on the rig, but unfortunately he passed away. The proper authorities were notified. The cause of the incident is being investigated. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the crewmember’s family,” Petrobras said in a statement. Transocean, the vessel’s operator, echoed these remarks.
Because the factors involved are common to many drilling rigs in the Gulf, BSEE called on rig operators and contractors to review their hazardous areas and work practices, and to share this incident report as a case study with their crews.
In particular, BSEE called for operators to review and verify that potentially hazardous areas are clearly marked and employees are trained on accessing these zones; and to review equipment layout and operational design to reduce the likelihood (or the consequences) of human error.