On 18 November 2008, while the Maltese registered bulk carrier Saldanha was anchored off Newcastle, NSW, a ship’s engineer was burned when the auxiliary boiler furnace ‘flashed back’ during a routine boiler oil firing unit burner exchange.
The ATSB investigation into the incident found that the ship’s crew was not aware of all of the hazards associated with maintaining the boiler burner; was not aware of previous flashbacks involving similar burners; and not aware of the appropriate first aid treatment required for burn injuries. The investigation also found that the safety bulletin that had been previously issued by the manufacturer did not inform operators that the oil firing unit could be modified.
The ATSB has acknowledged the proactive safety action taken by the responsible organisations in relation to the identified safety issues. The ATSB has also issued one safety recommendation and one safety advisory notice:
While the Volcano Company safety bulletin warned of the dangers associated with servicing the VJ type burner, it did not inform operators that the burner could be replaced with a VJP burner (a similar burner fitted with a diesel pilot burner), or recommend that existing oil firing units could be modified.
The ATSB recommends that the Volcano Company takes safety action to address this safety issue.
Saldanha‘s master and crew were not aware of the appropriate first aid treatment required for burn injuries. As a result, the third engineer was not immediately provided with appropriate first aid.
Safety Advisory Notice
The ATSB advises that flag States, owners, operators and masters should consider the safety implications of this safety issue and take action where considered appropriate.