No complicated procedure is necessary to eliminate the causes of falling object incidents. One need is the establishment of an inspection and maintenance program, the object being to examine all structural parts of the rig and the equipment it supports to make sure nothing is insecure or in a position to fall. All lifting equipment, especially lifting lines and slings, should be subjected to frequent scrutiny to discover any possible defects in need of repair or replacement. If these precautions had been observed, a great percentage of the accidents in this category would never have occurred. All things being equal, men now crippled would not be crippled. Men now dead would be alive. Drilling crews, you can lose nothing by making certain your rigs contain no such death traps.
Third party equipment installed in the derrick should be inspected prior to installation to ensure that it does not have loose parts. The attachments should be checked to ensure that they are compatible with the derrick (mast). The equipment and accessory equipment should be tracked to ensure that the equipment and attachments are taken out of the derrick when no longer needed and included in the derrick inspection program until removed.
Unless dangerous work practices and the hazards of poor housekeeping are also eliminated, the job of preventing falling/dropped object incidents is only half done. This applies particularly to the habit many workers have of leaving tools and other objects scattered about the premises. A hammer left on a beam can crush a man’s skull. This has happened. A piece of pipe left too near the edge of a rig floor can be knocked or jarred off and strike and injure a man standing on the rig floor or lower deck. This has also happened.
Since hand tools are more likely to be dropped from up in the derrick than are other types of equipment, workmen should be instructed to observe special caution in the handling of hand tools if work is to progress safely. Men climbing the ladder should not attempt to carry tools with them; they should keep both hands on the ladder both for their own safety and the safety of other employees. When a worker in the derrick needs tools, a hoisting line should raise them. Tools being used should have a safety lanyard attached to them and secured to the worker, workbasket, or derrick. As soon as the employee has finished with a tool he should lower it by the line. Setting a tool aside temporarily on a beam or the derrick board where it can be knocked or jarred off is the precise reason many falling object accidents occur. As a final precaution, all employees should stay off the derrick floor as long as tools are being used in the derrick. Post warning signs.
Clean up, drilling crews! Provide a definite place for all tools not in use. Make it an absolute “taboo” to leave any piece of equipment or materials anywhere except at the designated safe spot. A little patient training will help everyone realize the importance of good housekeeping.