Personnel Basket Transfers: Industry Standard or Accident in Waiting?
Transfer Risks Offshore Workers Face
The Gulf of Mexico is filled with lift boats, jack up rigs, drilling rigs, and platforms. These structures are all necessary for the retrieval of gas and oil from the region's rich mineral deposits. In order to transfer workers to and from their jobsites, many companies use personnel baskets or Billy Pugh baskets to get the job done. As any worker who has been involved in such transfers can tell you, these operations can be scary and often result in injury. These basket transfers are even more dangerous when paired with poor weather, such as heavy rain, high winds, or rough seas. Inexperienced crane operators have also been at fault for serious injuries during risky basket transfers.
Why Billy Pugh Basket Transfers Are so Dangerous
In a these basket transfers, a personnel basket is attached to a crane. One or more workers hold on to the Billy Pugh basket's netting. The crane operator lifts the basket, swings it up and over the side of the first vessel and lifts or lowers the basket and workers to their destination. If all goes smoothly, there are no problems, and the personnel can get to work. Unfortunately, there are numerous risks associated with basket transfers, and necessary precautions aren't always taken.
Many basket transfer injuries occur because of one of three circumstances:
- Human Error—The crane operator can often lower the basket too quickly, or swing the basket in the wrong direction, causing impact injuries to the personnel. Without the proper experience or training, these operators can put numerous workers at risk. Click here to see just how wrong a basket transfer can go.
- Unsafe Sea Conditions—Safety protocol and rules dictate that Billy Pugh basket transfers not be done if the seas are too rough, but many companies ignore these guidelines. When high seas cause one or both vessels involved in the transfer to move, it becomes extremely difficult to transfer workers with causing injury.
- High Wind Conditions—When the winds are high, basket transfers are far more challenging. The Billy Pugh basket is also at a higher risk for bumping into a vessel or swaying dangerously, often resulting in serious injuries.
- Defective Equipment—If equipment used to transfer workers is defective or malfunctions, injuries may occur. From crane malfunctions to damaged basket netting or ropes, even the most minor defect may lead to a major accident.
Another major challenge for workers is that they must stay constantly engaged. Due to the fact that a transfer relies not just on the crane operator’s skill, but on the worker’s ability to grip tight to the net, this can be a very risky transfer method. In poor weather conditions, high winds, or even just day to day transfers, a worker could easily lose grip and suffer injuries due to the lack of back-up safety measure. Even when workers riding Billy Pugh baskets are vigilant in paying attention to the task at hand, it can be difficult to foresee challenges that may hit a worker in the middle of a transfer.
Arnold & Itkin Is the Right Choice for Your Offshore Injury Case
While Billy Pugh transfers have become part of the routine of offshore work, they are still extremely dangerous for the offshore workers involved. If you or a loved one has been injured in a personnel basket transfer, you need an experienced and qualified maritime attorney to represent your challenging case.
Arnold & Itkin has won more than $1 billion in just 5 years for workers hurt during basket transfers. We have successfully held companies responsible for putting their workers at risk by doing basket transfers in bad weather conditions or with poorly trained crane operators and can put this experience to work on your behalf.
Contact an offshore injury attorney from our firm today to discuss your situation in a free, confidential consultation.