It seems to MAC that two questions to be asked before a risk assessment could save lives: Is it really necessary to carry out this task right now? Is this equipment being used for its designed purpose? Consider the crushing of a bosun causing fatal internal injuries whilst painting the hull of the the Liberian registered platform supply ship ER Athina, subject of a new investigation report from the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch.
A small patch of damaged paintwork on the hull needed touching-up. despite the cosmetic nature of the intended work and the safer option of completing the paintwork repair in the sheltered waters of an alongside berth, the master’s decision to proceed with the painting was never challenged.
Since there was to be a fast rescue craft drill it was decided to carry out both tasks at the same time, the two tasks were not separately assessed.
The chief officer led a toolbox talk on the deck adjacent to the port FRC. The talk was attended by the deck cadet, Pjero, and the
OS. The points covered in the talk followed the ship manager’s risk assessment for the launch and recovery of the FRC, and it included the possible hazards and the associated control methods during the various phases of the drill. The risks of painting the port quarter were not formally assessed and, although the task was mentioned in the toolbox talk, it was not covered in any detail.
The victim had concerns about the job, finding difficulty on positioning the FRC but, says the MAIB report: “Pjero was an experienced and respected seaman but, as a prospective officer, he was also clearly ambitious. Therefore, it is possible that he did not pass on his concern over the FRC’s movement against the supply ship’s side because he wanted to complete the job and please the recently joined master, regardless of the risk of personal injury”.
The result was that he was fatally injured when he was crushed between the ship’s hull and the lifting frame of the ship’s fast rescue craft. The bosun was the FRC’s coxswain and the FRC was being positioned alongside the supply ship’s port quarter to repair a small area of damaged paintwork. The bosun suffered severe internal chest injuries and was evacuated ashore for medical treatment.
The severity of the bosun’s injuries was not immediately recognised, and his transfer to hospital ashore would probably have been quicker if it had been arranged through the coastguard rather than the ship’s agent.
He died soon after arriving at hospital.
If the answer to either of two questions – Is it really necessary to carry out this task right now? Is this equipment being used for its designed purpose? – is ‘No’ then might be better to delay the task or, at very least, ensure that a proper risk assessment is carried out.