Dropped tool prevention in the offshore oil and gas industry

GRIPPS understands that the oil and gas industry has unique regulatory and operational requirements. The GRIPPS team is dedicated to helping businesses in every industry achieve their goal of zero drops, so to assist you in building stronger safety practices, this article outlines the specific ways that the risk of dropped tools manifests in your environment and what you can do about it.

A serious risk to offshore workers

Similar to any other work environment, there’s no safe way to drop a tool on an offshore installation. Terrestrial incidents involving tools weighing less than 500 grams dropped from below five metres have had life-altering and fatal consequences, and the risks are only heightened in the dynamic and fast-paced environment of an offshore rig.

Since 2005, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) – the Australian Commonwealth statutory agency responsible for regulating the health and safety aspects of offshore oil and gas operations – and its predecessor agency have been issuing alerts on safety improvement issues and individual incidents. Their archive of these alerts indicates that dropped tools are a key safety risk and of significant concern to regulators.

In the period since NOPSEMA began providing this service, 67 alerts have been issued. Of these, no fewer than nine alerts – or roughly 13 per cent of all alerts – make reference to incidents where the potential for injury through dropped tools or objects exists (Alert numbers: 819293154565965 and 67).

A more specific response

As far back as 2013, the issue became pressing and constant enough that NOPSEMA issued a special factsheet specifically addressed the risk of dropped objects on offshore drilling rigs. Safety Alert 56 noted the increased number of dropped object incidents – up from 13 in the entirety of 2012 to nine in the first three months of 2013. It identified six root causes of dropped object incidents on offshore drilling rigs:

  • poor design of equipment
  • work procedures followed incorrectly
  • wrong procedures used or no procedures used
  • dropped objects not anticipated and factored into the planning for the work
  • lack of training, lack of instruction, lack of understanding of the task, and
  • preventive maintenance issues.

The construction and mechanism of operation of an offshore drilling rig makes dropped object incidents both more likely to occur and more likely to injure as compared to the environment of a terrestrial warehouse or other industrial facility.

Factors such as corrosion from sea water, vibration from drilling operations, high winds and the dynamic movement of operating equipment contribute to a heightened risk of dropped object incidents on offshore installations.

The cutting-edge of offshore safety

With so many factors to account for within the diverse environment of an offshore drilling operation, the need for an effective solution to dropped tools that works in a variety of circumstances is clear.

Traditional solutions such as guardrails, kickboards and debris netting are not as effective in the dynamic and fluid environment of an offshore rig, and high winds and waves can increase the diagonal travel of falling objects.

What’s required is a system that stops accidents before they start, effectively removing additional factors such as wind and structure movement from the equation.

GRIPPS offers just such a solution. Our range of dropped tool prevention equipment stops incidents before they start.

GRIPPS offers a complete solution for all tradespeople and technicians working at heights. Our tool tethers arrest falling objects before they leave the owner’s control, ensuring that the risk of injury isn’t just mitigated, but eliminated.

Contact the GRIPPS team today on at conquergravity@gripps.com.au and find out how we could equip your offshore operation with class-leading dropped object gear and/or training.

Visit www.gripps.com.au to see the full range of dropped object gear and solutions.

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