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Service Rig Tank Flash Resulting in Worker Injury

Description of Incident:
A crew was conducting well kill operations on a sweet oil well. A worker was
monitoring the return flow to the service rig trough from on top of the rig tank. When
the returns became gassier, the return flow was opened to the degasser section of
the rig tank and the trough flow was pinched in slightly. The rig manager proceeded to
the top of the rig tank stairs where his personal gas monitor immediately began to
alarm on high LEL (lower explosive limit). The rig manager looked up to observe both
the rig tank and the worker on the rig tank being engulfed in flames.
The worker standing on top of the rig tank jumped over the handrail to the ground,
and suffered a broken hand from the landing. The flash fire resulted in minor burns to
the worker’s face, chest, back and thighs, and extensive burns to the forearms which
required skin grafting surgery and 18 days in the hospital. The rig manager jumped off
the stairs and was not injured in the event.
The poorly terminated wire was hanging freely and made periodic contact with a
barbed wire strand two inches below the electrified wire. This contact between the two
wires created a spark, which ignited the gassy oil returns to the rig tank as they
vented from the open top of the tank.
Contributing factors included:
• The electrified fence was not identified as a potential source of ignition
• The power jumper wire was not properly terminated according to manufacturer
specifications
• The corporate and contractor PPE policy was not adhered to: the worker’s sleeves
were rolled up past the elbows leaving the forearms exposed to intense heat and
flame contact
• The worker was not wearing a personal gas monitor to warn of potentially explosive
atmospheres
Corrective/Preventive Actions:
• Site Specific Hazard Assessments should include a physical search for other
potential sources of ignition on or near the work site perimeter. Land owners may be
consulted if these potential sources of ignition are found to exist near the operated
properties
• The operating company has reviewed and identified the types of operations that may
have potential for gas to surface equipment and has implemented an administrative
control for keeping personnel out of the potential hot zone
• All personnel working on or near the rig tank should use personal gas monitors to
warn of high LEL environments
• All personnel are required to wear fire retardant coveralls as designed to minimize
the amount of exposed skin

This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 17th, 2015 at 10:59 am and is filed under Firemaster Flash, News, Safety Alerts.

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