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Petroleum and gas safety alert no. 58 | 05 August 2013 | Version 1

Fatality on coal seam gas (CSG) drilling rig

What happened?

While tripping out drill pipes on a petroleum and gas drill rig a young floorhand was crushed by an iron roughneck and suffered fatal injuries.

At the time of the incident the floorhand was fitting a dog collar around a drill collar. Witnesses state that a remote operated iron roughneck was engaged to extend while the worker was in its path. Attempts to warn the person and stop the iron roughneck failed. While this fatality is subject to an ongoing investigation this alert provides guidance for industry on risk factors and hazards identified during the preliminary investigation.

Key issues

Risk factors identified to assist industry in reviewing safety management controls include:

  • Initial design HAZOP may be inadequate and should be reviewed.
  • Ensuring safety controls enable workers and drillers to confirm that the path of the iron roughneck is clear of personnel.
  • The sound of equipment moving such as an iron roughneck may be muffled by other noises on the equipment or work site.
  • Layout or design of the drill rig and doghouse may impede a clear visual line of sight of workers in danger zones.
  • Emergency stop controls must be nearby identifiable and, readily accessible.
  • Safety controls on remote operated devices must be reviewed regularly to ensure they are adequate in controlling any risk of injury or harm.


Executive Safety Managers, operators and Site Safety Managers:

  1. Assess all operational risks relating to the use and maintenance of iron roughnecks.
  2. Take all necessary and reasonable action to ensure that no person or property is exposed to more than an acceptable level of risk relating to the use and maintenance of iron roughnecks.
  3. Re-examine iron roughneck design and interaction with control systems to eliminate risk or implement controls to ensure any risk associated with the use and maintenance of iron roughnecks is within acceptable safety limits, having regard to each relevant safety requirement, and is as low as reasonably practicable. Note: Regard must be made to the Workplace health and safety Queensland plant Code of Practice 2005 including AS 4024.1 (series) Safety of machinery and AS 61508 Functional safety of electrical/electronic/programmable electronic safety-related systems (series).
  4. Engineering controls should consider mechanical barriers, audio-visual warnings and rig platform authorisation controls that ensures people are in a safe area before iron roughnecks can be operated.
  5. Ensure engineering inspections have validated the safety critical elements of iron roughnecks operation including all safety-related software and hardware functions to verify the suitability of the safety measures implemented.
  6. Ensure test reports detailing all validations are recorded and managed as part of the safety management plan and can be presented for inspection if requested.
  7. Ensure that the provisions of Section 696 and Section 697 of the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004 are met.

Investigations are ongoing and further information may be published as it becomes available. The information in this publication is what is known at the time of writing.

We issue Safety Notices to draw attention to the occurrence of a serious incident, raise awareness of risks, and prompt assessment of your existing controls.

Authorised by Stephen Matheson - Chief Inspector, Petroleum and Gas

Contact: Chief Inspector, Petroleum and Gas

Issued by Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines

Placement: Place this announcement on noticeboards and ensure all relevant people in your organisation receive a copy.