The heavy lift ship Forte, carrying the Noble Regina Allen drilling rig, was anchored near McNabs Island in November 2017. Photo: Halifax Examiner

For the second time in three months, there’s been a potentially fatal incident involving a dropped object aboard a rig plugging 22 abandoned wells near Sable Island. Fortunately, no one was injured in this incident, which happened Thursday January 24 aboard the Noble Regina Allen Thebaud production platform, nor in the previous accident on November 5 aboard the Noble Regina Allen, another rig hired by Exxon Mobil*. The Canada Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board which is responsible for offshore safety issued this incident report earlier today:

ExxonMobil Canada Ltd. (ExxonMobil) has reported a near miss incident involving a dropped object on the Thebaud platform.

On January 24, 2019, while workers were erecting scaffolding, a three-meter scaffold pole weighing 11.8 kilograms slipped through a small gap and landed on a deck 9 meters below. There was no one in the immediate area at the time and there were no injuries. ExxonMobil advised that ongoing work was immediately stopped, and that a safety stand down was conducted.

Although there were no injuries associated with the latest incident, it was determined that it had the potential for fatality if a worker had been in the immediate area, and has thus been classified as a high potential near miss. The incident remains under investigation by ExxonMobil, which is being monitored by CNSOPB Safety Officers.

A check with the CNSOPB earlier this month determined the regulator is still waiting for a final report on an earlier accident November 5 from Exxon Mobil and Noble Corp which owns the Noble Regina Allen. That incident was also classified a “ high potential near miss” because it involved the drop of a 225-pound piece of gear that included a chain, swivel and shackle to the deck near where five people were working.

* We initially misidentified the rig involved in yesterday’s incident.

Jennifer Henderson is a freelance journalist and retired CBC News reporter.

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