ONGC graduate trainee killed in rig accident

Vol 24, PW 2 (03 Dec 20) People & Policy

ONGC is facing uproar after the tragic and possibly avoidable death of a bright young engineer in a rig accident at its Rajahmundry asset.

ONGC transported Sandeep Kumar, 24, to the Apollo Hospital in Hyderabad, about 430-km from Rajamundry, on November 25. But four days later doctors declared him dead at 3.03pm from a violent blow to the head.

"He was immediately put on ventilation at the hospital," an ONGC source tells us. "Doctors tried hard, but they could not save him."

Kumar had passed a gruelling application process to become a graduate trainee at ONGC after earning a degree from the prestigious Dhanbad-based Indian School of Mines, which counts ONGC chairman Shashi Shanker as one of its alumni. Kumar was working as an assistant executive engineer drilling when he was hit on the head by a drill casing pipe moving in mid-air using a winch.

Kumar did not speak the local Telugu language of Andhra Pradesh and is unlikely to have understood cries of warning by others on the site. "Kumar was the only breadwinner in his family," we hear.

"His father died some years ago, and his brother also lost his life in an accident; his mother and sister are the only ones left." Following the accident, ONGC director technology & field services OP Singh called an urgent online meeting with installation and work centre heads on November 26 and directed them to follow a six-point safety directive.

According to Singh’s order, all new graduate trainees must wear green helmets for easy identification. If green helmets are not available, he said they could use green tape or paint.

ONGC has also introduced a "buddy system’ where new graduate trainees are mentored by an experienced crew member or 'toolpusher'.