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BSEE issues alert on hydraulic torque wrench operations

Photo: Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement

Washington — In response to the death of a drillship worker who lacked formal training on using a hydraulic torque wrench, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has issued a safety alert.

BSEE says the August 2020 incident occurred in part because the worker didn’t recognize the risk potential of the hydraulic torque wrench, which was stuck, when extracting bolts from a telescopic riser joint flange. While assisting with unlatching the lower marine riser package from the blowout preventer to prepare for a ship relocation, the worker was struck by the wrench and lifted into the air.

The worker hit a riser clamp about 6 feet above the elevated work deck and fell to the rig floor. He received first aid but later died after being transported to the drillship hospital.

An agency investigation determined that failure to initiate stop-work authority, along with discrepancies with drill floor observer roles and responsibilities, contributed to the worker’s death.

BSEE recommendations to operators and contractors:

  • Ensure a job safety analysis captures the limitations of the hydraulic torque wrench when in use.
  • Verify all employees understand the JSA and have been formally trained on operating both hydraulic torque wrenches and hydraulic utility wrenches.
  • Emphasize the enactment of stop-work authority if imminent danger is observed.
  • Expand drill floor observer responsibilities to monitor all aspects of jobs occurring on the rig floor.
  • Consider using a hydraulic torque wrench with a compatible design that corresponds with the beveled edge of the telescopic riser joint.
  • Explore options for employing a load indicator, or a similar design mechanism, onto the hydraulic utility wrench package.
  • Ensure pre-job reviews and promote the sharing of feedback from previous experiences.

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