This case involves a man who was seriously and permanently injured while working as an employee at an oil drilling site. At the time of the incident in question, the man had been tasked with operating a tracked vehicle that was equipped with a drilling apparatus used for geological sampling. The vehicle had been heavily modified by the drilling company, and it was noted that the buggy did not receive a safety inspection after these modifications were done. The man was driving the vehicle from one area of the drilling site to another when he was forced to drive parallel to a steeply inclined hillside. Suddenly, the vehicle rolled over, ejecting the man out of the cab and causing serious crushing injuries. It was noted that, in addition to the modifications made to the vehicle, the site also lacked adequate radio equipment for communicating with spotters for vehicle movement.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. What safety measures need to be taken when modifying and operating a buggy?
Expert Witness Response E-085008
My thoughts are as follows: Were the modifications evaluated and designed by an engineer? Any and all major modifications must be engineered. Most of the oil and gas industry is focused on change management, which helps prevent these kind of modifications that make it to the field before a risk assessment is conducted. Based on experience and given the facts of the case I would suspect that safety policies on this site could be lacking in substance. Prior to beginning any operation you must first have prepared a journey management plan. This plan is reviewed and approved by management. Then, typically, the safety professional will review that plan with the crew to ensure that it is fully understood. Each day radio batteries are inspected to make sure enough have been charged and each crew member has a working radio. While in the field, drivers are required to make periodic radio checks along with position reports. I have investigated numerous incidents involving buggies of this type, ranging from roll overs to environmental spills and traffic accidents. If I were in charge of this particular operation, all modifications would have gone through a design review and risk assessment to ensure that all modifications are done in accordance to industry standards and regulatory requirements. Only once complete testing is performed to prove the safety of the modifications should the vehicle have been put back into the field.