Safety Alert
Near Miss - Dropped birdcage from heater treater

Country: USA - North America

Location: ONSHORE : Camp ie survey, seismic geophysical operations

Incident Date: 7 January 2019   Time: ---

Type of Activity: Maintenance, inspection, testing

Type of Injury: Dropped objects

Function: Production


The Production Operator was attempting to light the burner on the heater treater utilizing the Profire control system. After several failed attempts, an audible flash was observed. This sudden flash lifted the bird cage off the top of the exhaust stack. The bird cage weighs 19 pounds and fell an estimated 29 feet to the ground. It landed approximately 4 feet from the Operator.

What Went Wrong?:

  • The burner was not lighting as normal and took several attempts which allowed gas to accumulate.
  • The current SOP for lighting the burner was generalized/ lacking prescription.
  • The bird cage was not physically restrained to the burner.

Corrective Actions and Recommendations:

  1. Provide immediate guidance for safe operations of BMS while long term improvements are made.
  2. Review the Lease Operator training program module on Heater Treaters and close any gaps identified within the SOPs.
  3. Review training for all operators (employees & contractors) for BMS, explaining this incident.
  4. Review engineering design of BMS: recommended specs (restart times, disable manual mode, passcodes), review other safety devices within the system (permissible starting, purge fire tube, etc.), use of heat tracer installed for all fuel lines
  5. Review the process to secure all bird cages on heater treaters.

Figure 1: Bird cage

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Figure 2: Bird cage (rain cap) - placing

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Safety Alert number: 319
IOGP Safety Alerts http://safetyzone.iogp.org/

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