Illustration; Source: U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE)

While modifying a tool, offshore worker suffers ‘laceration requiring sutures’

After looking into circumstances surrounding an injury during offshore energy operations, the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has come up with four recommendations for oil and gas operators, which can assist in avoiding such incidents in the future on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

Illustration; Source: U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE)

According to the U.S. regulator, a worker was recently injured while attempting to install a hydraulic line on a pipe handling machine during offshore energy operations. The injury occurred after the worker determined the combination wrench on hand was too long for this particular use and attempted to alter the tool by placing the wrench into a vice to manually shorten the length by using a hacksaw. The U.S. regulator explains that the worker cut a gloved hand with the sharp edge of the altered wrench handle during the wrench alteration process, resulting in “a laceration requiring sutures.”

Upon investigating the incident, the operator’s Incident Investigation Team identified four causal factors. The first one indicates that the worker did not pause or stop work to consult with a supervisor when the job scope changed and/or the proper tool was unavailable. As a result, the decision to modify the combination wrench was not discussed with the supervisor before modifying the tool.

The second factor outlines that the worker did not explore the potential for other avenues and/or options for locating the proper tools, such as checking with other work groups. The third contributing factor to this incident was the fact that a proper wrench that would fit in the tight area was not readily available on the rig floor. In addition, when the worker decided to alter the hand tool, he chose a readily available hand saw versus a more appropriate/potentially safer method, like a bandsaw.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE)
Source: U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement

The BSEE explains that the operator and rig manager implemented corrective actions following the incident to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. These actions mean that rig managers will order close radius hand tools and will conduct a high-level overview of the incident with all crew members on board to emphasise the importance of proper pre-job planning and hazard assessment.

Moreover, rig managers will stress the importance of any lone worker applying the option to ask for assistance when reviewing a hazard identification and mitigation card/compass card. They will also set expectations for all crew members that the alteration of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) tools, equipment, etc. is unacceptable and discuss potential consequences.

While the operator’s incident report stated that prior to modifying the hand tool, the worker reviewed a hazard identification and mitigation card/compass card, the U.S. regulator points out that there were no apparent findings that the worker potentially used the compass card to circumvent the requirement of modifying the Job Safety Analysis when the scope of the job changed. 

Therefore, the BSEE recommends that operators and their contractors consider reviewing safety alerts with all relevant employees, reviewing the corrective actions implemented by the operator, ensuring proper tools are available, and reviewing all Hazard Analysis policies and procedures to ensure hazard identification and mitigation card/compass card is utilised and understood. 

Recently, the U.S. regulator also examined the events surrounding four recent detections of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) during offshore operations and provided recommendations to lower the number of similar incidents going forward.