Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Drilling rig fatal accident - Morecambe Bay

Texas-based oil and gas multi-national Ensco has been ordered to pay fines and costs totalling £290,000 after the tragic death of a worker (Russell Bell aged 25) died after falling 100ft into the Irish Sea in Morecambe Bay from a gas exploration platform. According to an article published on 12 September 2006 on

Lancashire Evening Post website.

He was involved in derigging some hoses that had been used for cooling lifeboats whilst flaring was taking place. Judge Russel said "Tragically he was unable to hold on to the ladder he had stepped onto and fell to his death some 100ft into the sea". It was accepted that the company did have a "safety culture" in place and there was no question of them, "putting profits before safety".

Mr Bell should not have been on the ladder according to safety instructions but the company, said Judge Russell, should have put measures in place to deal with human error.

Health and Safety for beginners website provides some more information and photos. It seems the dead person was replacing stair treads. He was supposed to only have one missing at any time, but for some reason had removed two. The article implies that, whilst this was fully covered on the permit to work, enough may not have been done to explain the permit and discuss the job before starting.

Andy Brazier

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