Potential for diver injury operating a hand-held torque wrench

What happened?

A diver was involved in a near miss that could have resulted in serious injury when he was asked to function an ROV valve override on a subsea isolation valve with a hand-held torque wrench.

A diver was asked to operate an ROV override switch with a hand-held torque wrench.  The operation was observed by a third-party technician who intervened and stopped the job.  The use of hand-held torque wrench to operate an ROV override on the valve was inappropriate due to the possibility of a sudden uncontrolled unwinding of the spring mechanism; this could have caused the torque wrench to rotate and hit the diver.

What went wrong?

  • The warnings on the GA (general assembly) drawing stating that hand-held tools should not be used were ambiguous and were missed;
  • The valves procedure issued by the client did not include a warning or highlight the dangers of using hand-held tools to operate the ROV override;
  • Engineers were not issued with the appropriate installation operations manual which included warnings not to use hand-held tools;
  • The assumption was made that a hand-held torque wrench could be used. Our member notes that similar incidents have occurred within the organisation.

What actions were taken?

  • Any operation of an ROV override on a double actuated spring ¼ turn ball valve (fail safe) should not be operated with a manual hand-held torque tool unless there is clear confirmation from the client or the valve manufacturer that it is safe to do so.