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Mitigating the risks of dropped objects

Offshore Rig Derrick

The risks to personnel and assets from dropped objects is well known in the oil and gas industry. Twenty-four dropped object incidents were reported in 2016 offshore Australia, according to the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA), an Australian Commonwealth statutory agency that regulates the nation’s health and safety, well integrity and environmental management of all offshore petroleum facilities in Commonwealth waters. Among these cases, 54% have occurred on mobile offshore drilling units (MODUs) and 42% of these events could have led to fatality or serious injury.

Operators have identified that the underlying cause of dropped objects is lack of procedure: insufficient hazard identification and risk control prior to conducting lifting operations, as well as non-compliance with the job-specific lifting operations manuals and procedures. The absence of preventive maintenance consequently results in failure of equipment due to inadequate understanding of corrosion risks, lifting equipment design limitations and poor inspection regimes.


All personnel working in DROPS exposed areas on the vessel — rig managers, technical superintendents, stability section leaders, safety officers and other relevant personnel—should have a basic introduction and training to the best practices for prevention of dropped objects. The company dropped object procedures must be pursued and distributed by both the company HSE and senior management; these documents must be active and dynamic over time. A top down approach to dropped object prevention ensures the company is thinking about the issues in all aspects of their work and at all levels within the organisation.


Along with absolute ownership to the challenges with DROPS from management and crew, implementing a DROPS inspection system by a competent engineering inspection provider has proven to be a crucial preventive measure for mitigating risks associated with dropped objects. Frequent inspection regimes contribute to DROPS awareness and increased knowledge to prevent falling object incidents.


Correct materials for secondary retention—safety-wiring, lock nuts, carabiners, cotter pins, safety netting etc.— must be installed on equipment in locations with present a high risk in the event of failure. The DROPS Calculator should be used when determining required securing among other factors, such as items location, materials etc. (see figure 1).. It is important that spare securing items are available for crew. The cost for storing a few secondary retention materials onboard is very low but the HSE advantage is very high.


It is critical to implement the corrective action based on the inspection’s findings to promptly eliminate the chances of a workplace incident. Don’t let the findings stand untouched until the next annual inspection.


As maximum uptime and production is the main goal of  stakeholders, avoiding accidents should always be  top priority. That said, employing an independent inspection body that can help implement an efficient dropped object prevention plan and long-term inspection routine, is essential to maintain utmost safety without causing operational disruption whilst protecting your reputation.

Axess Group’s DROPS management system and inspection program is a systematic approach to reduce the risk of dropped objects while ensuring compliance and HSE. We have carried out dropped object inspections on drilling platforms, FPSOs, MODUs, fixed platforms, FLNGs and onshore plants to the oil and gas sectors around the world. Axess Group is a certified member of Dropped Objects Prevention Scheme Global Resource Centre (DROPS Online).

Contact our DROPS Engineering department for future collaborations at post@axessgroup.com.


Cover photo: “Ocean Star Drilling Rig” by Ed Schipul is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Contact Information

Axess AS
Oscar Hanssens vei 5
6415 MOLDE
+47 982 43 600
Axess North Sea Ltd.
Units 6 & 19 Robert Leonard Centre
Howe Moss Drive, Kirkhill Industrial Estate, Dyce AB21 0GG, UK
(duty): +44(0) 7912212854
St. John's
Axess Baffin Inc.
702 Water Street, Suite 201
St. John's, Newfoundland
+1 709 758 7937
Axess AS
Kokstadflaten 35
5257 Bergen
(duty): +47 976 88 578
Axess North America Inc
15915 Katy Freeway, Suite 501
77094 Houston, TX
+1 (281) 994-0367
Ciudad del Carmen
Axess Operations De Mexico S de RL de CV
Calle Bosque de Ciruelos 180 PP 101
Colonia Bosque De Las Lomas CP 11700 Cuidad De Mexico
+52 938-152-7688
Axess AS
Koppholen 25, 4313 Sandnes
Stavanger, Norway
(duty): +47 982 43 600
Rio de Janeiro
Axess do Brasil Ltda
Rua Dezenove de Fevereiro
171 - Botafogo
CEP 22280-030 Rio de Janeiro
+55 (21) 4108-0532
Axess Petrorig Ghana Limited
3rd floor, The Pelican
8 Blohum Street, Dzorwulu, Accra, Ghana
+233 (0) 30 397 0548
Rainha Ginga
127 Luanda, Angola
+27 82 202 5266
Cape Town
Axess Africa Ltd.
1 Nares Street
7925 Cape Town
+27 82 202 5266
Axess AS
Nedre Bakklandet 58C
7014 Trondheim
(duty): +47 982 43 600
Axess AS
Grønøraveien 1
7300 Orkanger
(duty): +47 41 78 06 30
Axess AS
Filipstad Brygge 1, 3rd Floor
0252 Oslo, Norway
(duty): +47 982 43 600
Axess Offshore Korea LLC
#103 (Aju-dong Hyunjin Evervil) B1 Yang 1-gil, Geoji-Si
Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea
+82 10 2696 2016
Axess Offshore (Mumbai)
B2-306, 3rd Floor
Kanakia Boomerang,
Chandivali Firm Road
Andheri East, Mumbai- 400072, India
Axess Offshore Pte Ltd
Nordic European Centre #05-31 South Wing
3 International Business Park
609927 Singapore
+65 6908 4174
Axess Offshore Australia Pty Ltd
304 Newcastle St
Perth WA 6000
+61 4 3373 0739
Axess Offshore Australia Pty Ltd
140 St Georges Terrace L28,
Perth WA 6000
+61 4 3373 0739
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