May 302011

What happened?

This alert is to advise you on a fatality incident which occurred on 9th April 2011 in Indonesia.

Three workers lost their lives and one other narrowly escaped death when they entered a dewatering tank after initial preparation activities prior to a coil tubing well unloading operation.

One worker entered the tank initially and lost consciousness. The others entered to rescue him. The individuals were asphyxiated by Nitrogen.

Entering the tank was an unplanned event and was not part of the Approved Work.  No risk assessment had taken place with the intent of entering the tank. Had vessel entry been planned the Company Safety Management Systems could have addressed this activity as there were adequate procedures in place to cover safe vessel entry.

Nitrogen asphyxiation incidents are unfortunately a recurring event in our industry. In Asia Pacific alone there have been two similar events in the last year involving a refinery in Singapore and a drilling operation in Indonesia.

The investigation into this incident is still on going however enough is known to initiate this interim alert in order to ensure that this type of event is avoided in the future.

Have you considered….

On your site(s) are you absolutely sure that our employees and contractors understand the following:

* The danger of Nitrogen atmospheres both inside vessels and outside vessels for example in the vicinity of hatches/man-ways. One breath of pure Nitrogen can kill.

* The site rules regarding confined space entry.

* The site rules regarding rescue from confined space.

Do your work control processes clearly address the potential of Nitrogen atmospheres and the barriers to prevent unintended exposure?

What should YOU do?

Review the Safety Alert and consider risk mitigation actions as appropriate at your site. Consider a blanket reminder to your workforces that Nitrogen is a potential killer.

Protecting our people through sharing experience.

In addition to those actions outlined above, what activities have you found to be useful at your site?

What gaps have your activities identified? How have you closed those gaps?

Have you joined the SafeSpace Project?

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