Research/studies Fall prevention Oil and gas Mining_Oil_Gas

Falls still a leading cause of death in oil and gas industry: report

offshore oil rig

Photo: flyingrussian/iStockphoto

Washington – Fatal falls among workers in the oil and gas extraction industry occur most often during rigging procedures or when workers remove or insert a drill pipe into a wellbore, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The researchers analyzed OSHA case investigations and found that workers in oil and gas extraction industries experienced 63 fatal falls from 2005 to 2014, with an annual average of 6.3. Of those fatalities, 14 occurred when workers were rigging up or down, and 14 occurred during removal or insertion of a drill pipe into a wellbore. Combined, those pre-fall activities contributed to 44 percent of fatalities.

Other findings:

  • 52 percent of fatalities involved falls from heights of more than 30 feet.
  • 35 percent involved falls from a derrick board.
  • 60 percent involved drilling contractor workers.
  • 41 percent occurred in Texas.

Fall protection was required in 86 percent of cases. For 24 cases in which fall protection was known to be used, the protection was not properly anchored 63 percent of the time, while equipment failure occurred in 29 percent of cases.

Researchers recommend further research “to develop effective and appropriate strategies for preventing fall fatalities” in the industry, including those outside of OSHA jurisdiction. They advocate these safety measures:

  • Integrating rig technologies that eliminate the need to work at height
  • Training employees on how to identify and reduce hazards of working at height
  • Ensuring personal protective equipment is properly used, fitted and inspected

The report was published in the April 28 issue of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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