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Spotter Caught Between Outrigger and Well House

Country: USA - North America

Location: ONSHORE

Incident Date: 15 February 2015   Time: 08:00

Type of Activity: Lifting, crane, rigging, deck operations

Cause: Caught in, under or between (excl. dropped objects)

Function: ---

What happened?:

A Crane Operator and Spotter were backing a crane into position in front of a drill site well row for work on a flow line support. As the crane backed to approximately five feet from the desired position, the Spotter reached for his radio to give the “Stop” command, but lost his balance. While the Spotter regained his balance, the crane continued to reverse. The Spotter was caught between the outrigger and the well house, causing an injury to right wrist.

What Went Wrong?:

  • The Spotter lost his balance placing him into the line of fire.
  • The Crane Operator continued to back after losing visual contact with the Spotter. The Spotter and Operator had previously agreed that if visual contact was lost that they would rely on verbal communication but did not agree that the verbal communication would be constant.
  • This method of positioning the crane had been normalized between this Spotter and Crane Operator.
  • While moving on pad, the outrigger was left extended to prevent potential hydraulic oil leaks.
  • The pre-task discussion did not identify these hazards.

Figure 1: Aerial view of worker and crane position

Figure 2: Aerial view of wellhouse and crane position


Corrective Actions and Recommendations:

  • Spotters and Operators of mobile equipment must establish clear communication protocols before commencing task.
  • Spotters must never allow themselves to be in the line of fire of the mobile equipment’s path of travel.
  • When operating equipment, if visual or verbal contact is lost with your Spotter, STOP immediately until contact is re-established and safe operation can continue.
  • Before changing an established practice, ensure there are no higher consequence hazards introduced.

Safety Alert number: 286
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