BSEE Issues Safety Alert After Drillship Fatality

The alert recommends that all operators and drilling contractors working in the Gulf review their facilities' hazardous areas and associated safe work practices.

The federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement issued a Safety Alert on Dec. 6 in response to the fatal injury of a floorhand four days earlier aboard a drillship operating in the Gulf of Mexico. BSEE and the U.S. Coast Guard are conducting an investigation into the death on the ship working in an area of the Gulf known as Walker Ridge 469, about 172 miles south of Port Fourchon, La.

BSEE said the offshore oil and gas operator, Petrobras America Inc., reported that the fatality occurred onboard the Petrobras 10,000 drillship, owned by Transocean Ltd., at about 4:45 a.m. on Dec. 2, 2017. The worker was employed by Spencer Ogden Ltd. and was participating in pipe handling operations at the time of his injury. No other personnel were harmed in the incident, and no pollution resulted from the incident, according to BSEE.

BSEE Gulf of Mexico Region Director Lars Herbst has instituted a panel investigation and inspectors have begun conducting a thorough investigation into the cause of the fatality, and BSEE said it will provide more information about the case as it becomes available.

The Safety Alert says the worker was positioned between a stanchion on the port side of the rig floor, with his back to the retracting skate, when the skate moved and pinned him against the stanchion. "It was reported that there is approximately a 3-inch clearance between the stanchion and the loading platform," it says. "The incident took place within a rig floor red zone -- an area where entry is controlled."

The alert recommends that all operators and drilling contractors working in the Gulf review their facilities' hazardous areas and associated safe work practices.

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