Trip in Lifeboat Proves Fatal for Worker

July 1, 2004
OSHA has finished investigating an incident that killed one worker and seriously injured two others during the construction of offshore oil rigs in Portland Harbor in Maine and issued citations to two employers for alleged violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

On Jan. 13, a lifeboat containing three workers was being lifted back to its stowed position aboard the oil rig, the Pride Rio de Janeiro, following a lifeboat drill when the boat's sternhook failed, dropping the lifeboat and the workers approximately 60 feet into the harbor.

"The workers should not have been in the lifeboat when it was being raised back to its stowed position," said C. William Freeman III, OSHA's area director for Maine. "OSHA standards prohibit it. Had proper safeguards been followed, they would not have been in the lifeboat after the drill and therefore not exposed to serious injury and death."

Two other hazards, not directly related to the accident, were also cited. They involved a Billy Pugh personnel carrier used to raise and lower employees to different levels of the rig. Specifically, no personal fall arrest systems were provided for workers riding in the personnel carrier and no one was operating a tag line on the rig's lower level to prevent the personnel carrier from swinging or swaying when being used in windy conditions.

OSHA cited Pride International Inc., which employed the three workers, and Petrodrill Engineering NV, the project's construction manager and fined each employer $13,950 for three alleged serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Pride International Inc. faces an additional fine of $100 for an alleged other-than-serious violation for not maintaining an illness and injury log.

Pride and Petrodrill each have 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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