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Loss of breathing air during entering

Country: NORWAY - Europe

Location: OFFSHORE

Incident Date: 8 November 2022   Time: ---

Type of Activity: Maintenance, inspection, testing

Cause: Confined space

Function: Production

What happened?:

While cleaning a tank, which involves entering the tank and the use of an external air supply, the air supply stopped and the reserve tank ran out of air without this being detected. The person immediately got out and there were no injuries. The alarm was triggered but the guards did not hear it due to high noise levels in the area.

What Went Wrong?:

  • A fault caused an air compressor to stop and switch to backup air.
  • The alarm signal could not be distinguished from the noise in the area and was not heard. This was not identified as a risk.
  • The alarm panel on the air compressor was not continuously monitored, as it was trusted that the sound signal was sufficient.
  • There were no established requirements for documented training.
  • The unit did not have the opportunity to test that the alarm worked, and there was no secondary independent barrier.

Corrective Actions and Recommendations:

  • Clarify requirements in governing documentation for monitoring air compressor.
  • Dialogue with manufacturer to improve design - use another model that provides a light signal in addition to the audio signal.
  • Ensure that contractor has training requirements for third party equipment.
  • Review procedure and design for use for all fixed and removable air compressors in use.

Safety Alert number: 356
IOGP Safety Alerts


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