United Kingdom

Terrifying moment workers are nearly killed while working on a Santos oil rig at Varanus Island

Three oil rig workers narrowly avoided being crushed when a 200-tonne platform began swinging out of control as it was lifted by a crane. 

The offshore technicians were dismantling a Santos oil rig off Varanus Island on the Western Australian coast on July 5 when disaster suddenly struck. 

Horrifying footage shows the workers scramble to get out of the way of the huge platform as it unexpectedly separated from its steel column.

Horrifying footage shows the workers scramble to get out of the way as the huge platform as it unexpectedly separated from its steel column 

As the giant platform starts to rock back and forth, metal cables flail and snap, narrowly missing the high-vis wearing workers underneath.

A spectator urged the crane operator to 'get it off' as the men scrambled out of the way of the airborne platform and clung on to the column ladder for dear life.

Experts told WA energy industry website BoilingCold it was a miracle no workers were killed in the die industrial accident.

The outlet explained the plan was for the workers to cut through the column with flame cutters while the crane held the caisson's weight.

However, as separation was about to be reached, the caisson began to rock wildly in danger of smashing into the workers in its path.

With a loud bang it suddenly separated at the height of the workers' heads and swung around uncontrollably as cables and pieces rained down.

A huge metal cable still dangling from the caisson was dragged past the workers as they frantically climbed down to get out of the way.

The quick-thinking crane driver saved the day by lifting the caisson as far away from the workers as it could, but they and those on the boat were still at risk from falling debris. 

As the giant platform starts to rock back and forth, metal cables are seen flailing and snapping as dropped objects narrowly miss the orange-clad workers underneath

The offshore technicians were dismantling a Santos oil rig off Varanus Island on the Western Australian coast on July 5 when disaster suddenly struck

Australian Workers' Union national secretary Daniel Walton described the incident as one of the 'most horrifically scary accidents' the union has ever seen in the WA resources industry.

Mr Walton said without the quick actions of the crane driver the three men would have 'undoubtedly been squashed'. 

'It seems to be a race to the bottom, that is, try to cut costs in every way you possibly can to save a buck or two,' he told 9 News. 

'And as a consequence of that safety is jeopardised.' 

The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety said Santos was banned from performing any similar lifts while the accident was being investigated. 

A diagram of the platform that the workers were dismantling. American energy company Apache built them in 1993 and ceased operation in 2006. They have been inactive since then

Santos said it had ceased all activities and later notified the industry regulator of the accident.

'Following the incident and investigation, work recommenced on the remaining Sinbad structure and the removal of the facilities has now been completed,' it said. 

Santos said it was working with the regulator to ensure measures were implemented for future operations to ensure an incident did not happen again.  

American energy company Apache built the Sinbad platforms in 1993 and ceased operation in 2006. They have been inactive since then.

Apache sold them to Quadrant Energy in 2018, which Santos bought out months later. It is now dismantling all the platforms.

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