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Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Accident Report Detail

Accident: 200102036 - Drill Rigger Dies From Hypothermia And Drowns

Accident: 200102036 -- Report ID: 0522300 -- Event Date: 12/20/2004
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
30849709812/20/20041381Rose Run Drilling Inc.
At approximately 5:00 a.m. on December 20, 2004, Employee #1, of the Rose Run Drilling Co., without being directed by the foreman, went to apply chemicals to the surface of the water retention pit, also known as a mud pit. About 5:57 a.m., the foreman (Employee #2) and two other employees (Employee #3 and Employee #4) noticed that Employee #1 was missing when he did not show up to release the air pressure from the drill shaft. The foreman and the two other employees searched for about an hour, starting about 5:58 a.m. The foreman then instructed the employees to dredge the mud pit using a skyhook; they pulled Employee #1's body from the pit. The foreman called 911 as employees attempted CPR. Emergency medical personnel arrived, and Employee #1 was pronounced dead at the scene. The coroner's preliminary finding lists the causes of death as hypothermia and drowning. Employee #1, a rig hand for the last three months for Rose Run Drilling Co., was working the fourth shift on the fifth day of a ten-day gas drilling project. There are four six-hour shifts per day, and the fourth shift runs from 3:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. The gas drilling site, in Niles, Ohio, is leased by Everflow Eastern, the well drilling company. The chemical being applied to the water retention pit was "Black Hills Gel," or Wyoming bentonite, which becomes very slippery when mixed with water, as stated in the MSDS. It is added to help retard the foam that builds up as a result of the drilling. The lighting conditions were very poor in and around the mud pit. There were three 500 watt halogen lights around the work site, but none were located in the pit area. First responders had to use flashlights to light the accident scene. The mud pit was 70 feet long, 34 feet wide, and 12 to 14 feet deep, with an 80 to 85 degree downward slope toward the center of the pit. The temperature on the morning of the accident was in the single digits, with snow and ice on the ground. The edges of the mud pit were very slippery because of the snow, ice, and mud on the black plastic mill pit liner that extends 4 to 5 feet around the edge of the entire pit. There was no barrier in place around the pit, and there weren't any fall arrest devices being used at the time of the accident. The foreman and the two other crew members of the four man crew at the drilling point on the SkyTop Brewster mobile rig began drilling at 5:03 a.m. During the drilling of the well, the noise level was so loud that even if Employee #1 had called for help, no one would have been able to hear him. The drilling stopped at 5:27 a.m. The foreman and crew resumed drilling at 5:36 a.m. and stopped drilling again at 5:57 a.m. It was then that the foreman noticed that Employee #1 was not at his assigned job location. At about 5:58 a.m., the foreman directed the two other crew members to begin a search for Employee #1 at his car and throughout the surrounding work area, starting near the pump lines. The Niles Police Department, which reported the fatality to the Cleveland Area OSHA Office at approximately 10:00 a.m. on December 20, 2004, is conducting its own investigation.
Keywords: gas well, slip, fall protection, slippery surface, drown, gas well drilling, oil rig, poor visibility
Employee # Inspection Age Sex Degree Nature Occupation
1 308497098 Fatality Other Laborers, except construction

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