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Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Accident Report Detail

Accident: 14527824 - Employee Killed By Rotary Drilling Rig Pipe Tong Handle

Accident: 14527824 -- Report ID: 0419400 -- Event Date: 02/15/1989
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
1802970202/22/19891781Herndon Well & Supply, Inc.
Employee #1 worked as a driller's helper on one of two, 3-man crews drilling an 18 in. diameter replacement water well for the city of Holly Springs, MS. His job was to operate the pipe tongs (wrench) at the rear of a portable drilling rig on the day shift on Wednesday, February 15, 1989, a misty, cold day. At 8:00 a.m., the day shift crew began removing the twelve pipe sections plus an 18 in. diameter dummy casing section which had been strung into the hole by the night crew. The day crew had successfully removed 8 pipe sections and Employee #1 had latched the tong jaws around the ninth pipe section above the threaded pipe joint. But he did not step back when the driller engaged the rotary table's transmission, and the rotary turning clockwise applied torque to the bottom tenth section of pipe. A 7/16 in. diameter by 4.302 ft long wire rope snub-line, which was restraining the 2.182 ft long tong handle, snapped when the rotary transmission's torque was applied. The tong handle was free to rotate, and struck Employee #1 in the left mid-chest. This severe chest trauma broke no bones but caused cardiac arrest. Employee #1 was transported to Marshall County Hospital, but died after efforts on site and at the hospital failed to restart his heart. The tongs were a type D drill pipe tubing and casing tong set by Web Wilson, a division of Cooper Industries, Martin-Decker Division, Woodlawn, TX. The rig was a Gardner Denver wide mast-40, portable drilling rig, serial #4235. The wire rope snub-line was preformed steel, 19 by 7, rotation resistant, right regular lay with IWRC (independent wire rope core), with red paint marking several strands (this most likely was a Leschen Wire Rope Company brand cable). Causal factors include: the snubline was too long, breakout cathead and tongs were not being used, and Employee #1 was in the wrong position.
Keywords: chest, rotating parts, work rules, pipe wrench, construction, cardiac arrest, drill rig--non-oil, struck by, tongs, unstable position
Employee # Inspection Age Sex Degree Nature Occupation
1 18029702 Fatality Bruise/Contus/Abras Occupation not reported

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