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Oilfield trainee died after being struck by a bull plug, needle valve and gauge assembly blown out of a wellhead connection.

NIOSH 2000 Jul; :1-5
A 19-year old wireline operator trainee died on January 12, 2000 from head and neck trauma received at an oil well when he was struck by a bull plug, needle valve and pressure gauge assembly that had been blown out of a wellhead connection. At the time of the incident, the victim was standing approximately 15 feet away from the wellhead near the wireline truck where he and the wireline operator were changing wireline tools while the well operator and an oilfield chemical service representative were attempting to gauge the well pressure. When the well operator opened the wellhead gate valve, the bull plug, needle valve and gauge assembly blew out of the connection and struck the victim in the head and neck inflicting fatal injuries. OKFACE investigators concluded that to prevent similar occurrences: 1. The responsible employer on multi-employer worksites should monitor critical safety activities performed by contractor employees, particularly personnel whose background and skills may be unknown or uncertain. 2. Until connections are adequately tested, the responsible employer on oil well locations should place signs or barricades in areas that lie in direct line with wellhead flanges and connections that may be subject to flying debris in the event of a system failure. 3. The responsible employer on multi-employer job sites should plan and coordinate job activities and communicate planned operations and their associated hazards with representatives from each organization working at the site. 4. Employers should develop and implement a formal occupational health and safety management system that is focused on continual improvement. 5. Employers should ensure that all employees are properly trained and skilled to perform each task that they are assigned, including training in hazard recognition and control.
Region-6; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Work-operations; Work-analysis; Work-areas; Work-performance; Work-practices; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-measures; Safety-monitoring; Protective-measures; Oil-industry; Training
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-00OK004; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-613938
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Oklahoma State Department of Health