The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has released its Accident Investigation Report on the April 17, 2021 incident that occurred on the Mississippi Canyon 437 A Appomattox semi-submersible production platform in the Gulf of Mexico. The platform is owned and operated by Shell Offshore Inc. During the incident, a stack operator was attempting to open chemical injection valves to a well. During this process, the worker was came into contact with a chemical, asphaltene inhibitor, on the arms and face. The worker had to be evacuated via helicopter due to an eye irritation.
The BSEE report, documented the failures of Shell’s Personal Protective Equipment requirements for the work:
BSEE found that Shell’s PPE requirements for this work activity were inadequate. The IP was wearing normal PPE with no chemical resistant gloves or face shield. Shell claimed that no PPE was required because the employee was not breaking containment. However, BSEE disagreed with this assessment. Shell’s corrective action involved building a stainless steel fixed mechanical barrier to prevent workers operating the valve above the Flow Element FE 4220-H1 from being impacted with chemical spray.
BSEE found that based on the worker’s experience offshore, that the incident was not caused by inexperience. The chemical leak was caused by a loose fitting between an isolation valve and the flow element which may have come loose over time.
BSEE report determined the probable cause of the incident:
Equipment Failure: Inadequate equipment inspection. A loose tubing fitting between the flow element and the isolation valve went undetected prior to opening the valve. The fitting may have been loose due to improper installation or vibration.
The contributing cause was also established:
Work Environment: Not aware of hazards/Inadequate PPE: Shell failed to recognize possibility of a leak from the weep hole. The possibility should have been recognized in the JSA and proper PPE should have been worn for the job.
The incident also shows the importance of having proper personal protective equipment, as well as proper pre-job planning on what is required. Offshore workers should have adequate PPE, and safe platform operators must have procedures in place to assess the PPE which is required for each job that is being done. Accidents due to improper PPE are known risks, which much be planned for by platform owners and operators.
Our attorneys have extensive experience in maritime injury and wrongful death litigation in courts across the country and the skills needed to represent the families of loved ones who have lost their lives as a result of the negligence of another party, or been seriously injured. We have handled numerous cases involving injuries that occurred following fires or explosions on offshore platforms. The experienced offshore accident attorneys at Spagnoletti Law Firm can help you understand your rights if you or a loved one was a victim of an offshore accident. Please contact us online or call 713-804-9306 or 877-678-5864 to learn more about your legal rights.