Even the best personal protective equipment will not remove the risk of injury from heavy flying objects notes Denmark’s Maritime Accident Investigation Board, DMAIB and the best strategy may be to remove the work from the area of hazard.
Says DMAIB: The fishing vessel Jank (SG 75) departed from Klintholm on 21 March 2012 at 0300 in the morning with two fishermen on board in order to trawl for cod in the Baltic.
During the second haul of the day, the trawl got hold of a submerged obstacle at approximately 1030 in the morning. During the attempts to free the trawl, the stern of the vessel was raised by a sea, and the vertical bolt holding the starboard warp block broke due to the strain from the wire. The warp block therefore fell down hard and hit the fisherman’s left safety boot. When the acci-dent happened, the fisherman was standing close to the warp block and just forward of the trawl drum, where he controlled the wire drum with the levers positioned on the trawl winch drum.
The fisherman’s left foot was severely injured, and he was evacuated to hospital by helicopter.
The accident has given the Danish Maritime Accident Investigation Board reason to issue safety recommendations to the owners of the fishing vessel.
The force from the trawl caught in the submerged obstacle, combined with the forces originating from the stern being raised by a sea, exceeded the breaking load of the bolt holding the warp block. The block therefore fell hard towards the deck.
Despite hitting the drum of the trawl winch before continuing towards the deck, the warp block retained sufficient energy to severely injure the fisherman’s left foot when hitting the soft upper part of the fisher-man’s safety boot just behind the protective safety cone.
The design of personal protective equipment will always be a compromise between offering the maximal protection while still being practicable when working. The safety boots worm by the fisherman are considered suitable for use on board the fishing vessel. Personal protection equipment such as safety boots, helmets, gloves, etc. will never con-stitute a sufficient barrier against the forces released when blocks and wires under heavy strain break.
When protecting personnel against the consequences of failure in such heavily strained warp blocks, wires and so on., the strategy must therefore be to remove the person from the danger. Therefore this accident should give rise to con-sider other possible positions of working places and control levers on board the vessel, where the consideration of working safety is greater.
Preventive measures Following the accident, the owners of the vessel increased the dimension of the vertical bolt holding the warp block from 30mm to 35mm.
The connection point of the safety chain to the warp block was changed from the top of the block to the bottom. Thereby it is hoped that, if the suspension bolt fails, the safety chain connected to the bottom of the warp block will ensure that the block hits the outside of the gunwale and from there will fall directly into the sea instead of landing somewhere on board the vessel with the risk of injuring crewmembers.
Recognizing that there are several ways of installing safety chains to warp blocks and other heavily strained pieces of equipment, the investigation board recommends that the owners of JANK contact the Danish Fishermen’s Occupa-tional Health Services for guidance regarding how to best install such safety measures.
Furthermore, the investigation board recommends that the owners consider other positions for working places and control levers where the consideration of working safety is greater.