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Rig hand entangled in rotating drive shaft while hanging light in rig structure.

Michigan State University
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 02MI016, 2002 Sep; :1-7
On February 15, 2002, a 31-year old male rig hand/welder was fatally injured when he was pulled upward and entangled in the rotating drive shaft between the chain case and the rotary table in the substructure of the oilrig derrick. The victim had previously removed a non-working light from the rig substructure and taken it to the doghouse, a general-purpose room that is a combination tool shed, meeting room, office and communications center. The replacement light was a 2-foot, 2-bulb fluorescent light with a 6-8 foot long cord. To attach the light to the rig substructure beam, he stood on either the hydraulic winches that lift the drill pipe, or the winch mounting brackets, or both. The winches/mounting brackets were located about 3½ feet above the rotary drive box for the chain case drive unit. Standing on the winches/mounting brackets placed him approximately 3 feet below and to the right of the rotating drive shaft. The 2-foot long drive shaft was approximately 8" in diameter, was located approximately 4-6 inches below the rig floor deck and was rotating at least 70 rpm. The rig was not shut down or locked out during the removal of the defective light or when placing the replacement light. The event was unwitnessed, so it is unknown how the victim became entangled in the drive shaft. A co-worker heard a thumping sound and observed the victim spinning with the drive shaft. The co-worker shut down the rig and emergency services were called. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene. Recommendations: 1. Employers should ensure that workers follow established lockout/tagout procedures for control of hazardous energy prior to service and maintenance of equipment. 2. Employers should train workers to recognize potential workplace hazards and participate actively in workplace safety. 3. Company management should consider developing a joint health and safety committee. 4. The company should develop a written disciplinary procedure for safety and health policy violations. 5. Oilrig manufacturers should consider engineering a guard to provide worker protection from rotating drive shafts when working in the derrick substructure.
Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-practices; Safety-measures; Traumatic-injuries; Region-5; Work-practices; Work-analysis; Work-environment; Work-performance; Occupational-accidents; Training; Oil-industry; Welders; Machine-guarding; Engineering-controls
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-02MI016; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-521205
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Michigan State University
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division