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NEW HSE ADVICE ON DRILLING & PILING RIG SAFETY

Reliance on trip wires to prevent entanglement likely to be prohibited

Fatal and serious injuries have occurred involving the rotating parts of drilling and piling rigs. HSE has now issued detailed guidance to its Construction Inspectors on the standards of safeguard expected and the circumstances requiring enfprcement action.

The requirements of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (as amended) 1998, the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 (and earlier enactments of this legislation) apply to these machines.

The guidance does NOT cover issues surrounding rig stability

Steps required are spelt out

The guidance sets out to explain the most common drilling and piling rig uses and the steps owners, employers and operators need to take to prevent people becoming entangled in the rotating parts. It addresses the key issues and provides Inspectors with “initial enforcement expectations” (IEE). It states that the magnitude of risk is such that where a rig is operated unguarded, “even with trip wires”:

“The IEE is therefore a Prohibition Notice. This will be the case for unguarded rigs, poorly guarded rigs, those with defective or defeated interlocks and those relying on trip wires.”

The inspection of drilling/piling rigs is not a programme priority for HSE but if an unguarded rig is seen during an inspection  HSE Inspectors are instructed to:

  • ensure guards prevent access to the rotating part, including to the side and rear of the drill string around the mast.
  • check the operation of the interlock to ensure that the rotational power stops on activation, that full speed is not possible with the gate open and that slow rotation is only on hold-to-run control or inching.
  • where the rig is unguarded but trip-wires are in place, strongly challenge this choice of injury mitigation.

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