Kenny Wood, now Assistant Rig Manager, Maersk Resilient, recalls on its 31st anniversary an accident in less safety-conscious days that seemed at first to have extremely serious consequences. Here he tells his story:
"It’s that time of year when the golf invitations start to come in and when I have to turn down some great days out, all due to a bad back and a silly incident 31 years ago… Exactly 31 years ago I was an Assistant Driller on the new built jack-up rig Maersk Venturer working in Saudi Arabia. We’d just set 9-5/8” casing, had nippled down and lifted the BOP 6-7ft above the wellhead ready to install the Tubing Head Spool (THS).
Everything was going fine; an air winch from the drill floor was lowered down through the BOP, attached to the THS and ready to start lifting into position. As it needed to be raised 8-9ft we used to “walk” up with the THS to prevent it getting hung up on the wellhead. We (the THS and me) had reached about 7ft when I saw the hook of the winch line get caught in the ring groove of the BOP, watching the hook come free and the chain slowly unravelling I thought, “Oh dear this doesn’t look good” or a Scottish version of that!!
I hit the deck first, landing on a piece of metal, fortunately the THS spool landed beside me a second later, unfortunately the two wing valves were laying across me. The crew quickly got me into the rig hospital and to be honest I didn’t feel too bad until I looked at the faces surrounding me. Steen, the Barge Engineer, had a long thin needle in his hand and was sticking it into my feet - I couldn’t feel a thing. He then started to stick it into various places on my legs, still I couldn’t feel anything. At that moment I realised that I couldn’t move my legs at all. Now I was worried.
I was medevac'd to a hospital in Dhahran, where for one and half days I had no feeling in my legs, eventually after the third day I could stand up, next day I could walk and by day six I left to go back to the rig!! My spine had been badly bruised and knocked out of kilter so now it doesn’t like the twisting motioned needed for golf.
Once back on the rig I found that the Senior Toolpusher had made an “instruction” for the folder we kept on the drill floor not to use a chain when lifting wellheads into position and we all carried on as normal.
You will note that there is no mention of referring to procedures, no check on the Safe Job Analysis and no Toolbox Talk prior to starting the work, none of the normal processes we use now in our everyday work.
It is an unfortunate fact that many of the procedures that we use in our daily work on board the Resilient are born out of incidents like mine, I was lucky, many weren't and suffered serious, sometime fatal injuries.
The procedures and processes are there to ensure that you can complete your work as safely as possible and return home to family and friends. As they are live documents they can easily be changed so please read them, understand the process, and if parts of the procedure doesn’t apply to the job then have it changed, insist on having our procedures reflect the work that you do. Maybe if I did that I’d be joining you at this year’s golf outing."
Source: Maersk Drilling