Jun 062011

Not a place to be when under the influence

Stanislaw Bania, was Polish, 58 years old and an experienced AB. His career, and his life ended when he fell from a ladder on the the St Vincent and the Grenadines registered cargo vessel  Joanna while alongside in Glasgow, Scotland, 13 December 2010. Analysis of postmortem blood revealed that Stanislaw had a blood alcohol concentration of 193mg/100ml.

The Marine Acidient Investigation Brranch investigation identified that the AB almost certainly fell while climbing up  to the port side platform of the straddle lift used to move the vessel’s cargo  hatch covers. It also found that: the AB was working while under the influence  of alcohol; the means of access to the straddle lift platforms used by the ship’s crew were unsafe; the opening and closing of the cargo hatch covers had not been identified as a key element within the onboard procedures, and therefore the risks of accessing and operating the straddle lift had not been assessed; and important personal protective equipment (PPE) was either not available on board, or was not fit for purpose.

The vessel’s manager has implemented a drug and alcohol policy, renewed its shipboard operations and risk assessments, provided new procedures for the operation of the straddle lift, and provided replacement PPE on board Joanna. Says MAIB: “the crew appear to have followed established onboard working practices without considering whether it was safe to do so”.

Stanislaw’s boots and gloves had worn smooth, indicating that more frequent monitoring and, if necessary, replacement was required. However, Stanislaw’s boots were also unsuitable for wear during cargo operations. This, combined with the lack of lifejackets for use on deck and the absence of any test or standards markings on the fall restraint harnesses, indicates that much tighter control of PPE on board is necessary.

The hazard potenial had already been identified by a classification society audit four months earlier: “As the lack of risk assessments had been highlighted by Polski Registr Statkow during its DOC audit on 17 September 2010, it is unfortunate that a quicker response to the classification society’s observation was not forthcoming. Even the most rudimentary risk assessment would undoubtedly have highlighted the need to remove
or mitigate the hazards to Joanna’s crew when accessing or operating the straddle lift through structural changes, collective measures, robust procedures, and/or the provision of suitable PPE”.

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