Spirit of Tasmania I Fall: Observing the Obvious In Catwalk Capers

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Nov 242011

Catwalk between main engines 3 and 4

Working on board a ship comes with some inherent risks, not all of which can be listed on a risk register or covered by a formal job safety/hazard analysis, so keep your eyes open. So says Australia’s Transport Safety Board in its investigation report into a crewmember injury aboard the passenger/ro-ro Spirit of Tasmania I on 17 September 2011.

Always take a few moments to survey your surroundings and consider the risks associated with the task you are about to carry out then take steps to minimise those risks.

In this case, the chief engineer asked an integrated rating (IR) to get the large portable ventilation fan that was stored on the second deck and take it down to the floor plates. The fan was too large to be carried, so it was usual practice to use the engine room crane to lower it through an opening in one of the second deck catwalks.

The IR had carried out this task many times before. He went up to the second deck and moved the fan, which was bolted to a trolley, around the second deck walkway to the forward end of main engines 3 and 4 (Figure 2). He then stepped down onto the catwalk in order to move two sections of the catwalk floor grating (each about 1 m x 1 m in size). He lifted one grating and slid it aft, placing it partially on top of the adjacent grating. He then moved forward and lifted a second grating and slid it forward; again placing it partially on top of an adjacent grating. This exposed an opening of about 1 m between the gratings.

The IR then climbed the three steps up from the catwalk onto the second deck walkway. He stopped for a moment, considering what to do next, and decided to go to the workshop to get a spanner so that he could unbolt the fan from the trolley before lifting it off the trolley with the engine room crane. Continue reading »

Dec 272010

Damaged lifeboats are expensive.

A company investigation into the parting of a wire fall during the recovery of a freefall lifeboat highlights the hazards created when wedge socket arrangements are improperly fitted. Note that in this case the wedge socket arrangement was installed while the ship was being built, so just because something is ‘factory-fresh’ does not mean it has been put together properly.

Wedge sockets are popular because they are easy to install and are used where end termination can be made only after the wire rope has been reeved into place.

Says an internal report by the ship manager: “During a routine boat drill the Free-fall lifeboat had been lowered to the water during the drill using the A-Frame and was being recovered when the fall wire parted causing the boat to fall some nine metres to the water.

Continue reading »

When One Hand Doesn’t Know What The Other Is Doing It Could Go Down The Hatch.

 falls, Offshore, safety alert, Safety Alerts  Comments Off on When One Hand Doesn’t Know What The Other Is Doing It Could Go Down The Hatch.
May 112010


Although this alert from Marine Safety Forum is offshore it has much wider value. It went like this: A platform supply vessel, PSV, connected the oil-based mud hose from a drilling rig. A routine message went from the bridge to the deck to check that mud filters on the starboard and port sides were in the correct position and that there were no leaks on other manifolds.

AB1, who was new to the vessel, went to check the filters and manifolds, and went through a hatch, leaving it open. He didn’t know where AB2 was. AB2 was on the port side, walked around to the starboard side and…

Yes, fell through the hatch left open by AB1. As chance would have it, AB1 was on his way back up the ladder to close the hatch. Fortunately there were no serious injuries, except possibly for Gerard Hoffnung splitting his sides.

Continue reading »

Spirit of Esperance Fatality – Routine Violations

 Accident report, Crane, Safety Alerts, safety flash  Comments Off on Spirit of Esperance Fatality – Routine Violations
Apr 132010

imageCrew aboard the Maltese-registered containership Spirit of Esperance “routinely violated the working aloft procedure by climbing the emergency ladder adjacent to the hook’s cradle without a permit or appropriate personal protective equipment” says Australia’s Transport Safety Bureau.  The result was that a seafarer fell 4 metres to his death.

Although ATSB identified a number of serious issues, the incident highlights the critical importance of following working aloft procedures and wearing personal protective equipment such as fall arrestors even if the job seems simple.

Continue reading »

Torm Camilla – Confined Space – When A Hard Hat Might Be The Wrong Hat

 Accident report, confined space, enclosed space, SafeSpace, Serious injury  Comments Off on Torm Camilla – Confined Space – When A Hard Hat Might Be The Wrong Hat
Feb 092010

Recreation of fallen fitter's position. Note head and hard hat against metal edge

Despite ‘an efficient and well-run safety system and organisation on board’ the chemical/product tanker Torm Camilla, a fitter fell 1.8 metres to the bottom of the forepeak tank and suffered a fractured skull. Two elements in particular led to the accident and its severity – holes in a platform which provided a tripping hazard and the inadequacy of the protective headgear worn by the injured fitter.

While trips, slips and falls occur on deck it should be noted that the injuries sustained may be greater in a confined environment and first aid and rescue more hazardous both to the injured person and the rescuers. It has been estimated that work in confined space is 150 times more dangerous than work elsewhere.

Continue reading »

Think Safety When Transferring At Sea

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Feb 052010

A transfer uysing the pilot ladder could be heading for a fall. Image: IMPA

Transferring from a smaller vessel to a bigger one is an inherently hazardous act even under the best conditions. Climbing a pilot ladder without appropriate precautions has led to the deaths and injuries of crew as well as pilots. At the same time, even rigging or adjusting a pilot ladder has resulted in loss of lives.

Denmark’s Maritime Authority, DMA, is currently investigating an incident during a transfer in the roads of Copenhagen on 1 February 2010. The crewman fell into the water and was lost. The crewmember was boarding the ship from a small transport vessel by means of the pilot ladder. The details of the accident are still unknown, but they are being examined by the Division for Investigation of Maritime Accidents.

The DMA has issued a safety advisory to clarify “some important measures to be taken when persons are being transferred at sea.

“If you observe these measures, you help ensure that the transfer is carried out in a safe and secure way. At the same time, it is important to stress that the necessary safety equipment must be in proper order and be used during the transfer.

The Danish Maritime Authority has drawn up the following list of conditions that should, as a minimum, be considered every time a person is to be transferred at sea.

Continue reading »

Oct 282009


Gibraltar’s Maritime Administration has criticised the lack of safety culture aboard a general cargo ship, BBC Atlantic following the death of a chief officer in October 2008. The officer had been standing atop a hatch cover being lifted by equipment not made for the job when t-hooks released, dropping the officer into the hold followed by the hatch itself. The officer did not survive his injuries.

The unsafe practices continued after an earlier, similar, incident. A variety of such incidents continue to occur through the industry as officers and crew continue to ignore safety warnings and good practice.

Continue reading »

Maritime Safety & Security News –28 August 2009

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Aug 272009

Man falls into cargo ship hold
Brazosport Facts
The fall appeared to have been an unfortunate accident, Houston said. Police do not believe foul play, drugs or alcohol played a role in the fall.

Ship hits Gwadar Port berth
The Nation, Pakistan
Sources were of the view that the mysterious ship collision had caused serious structural damage to the blocks supporting piles of the said jetty,

Boat is abandoned after collision
BBC News
The crew of a catamaran have abandoned their vessel after it was involved in a collision with a fishing boat off the coast of Cornwall.[/column] Continue reading »

Hard Hats And Hard Heads

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Aug 092008

As I got into the office of a client I was collared by one of the creative team “Is it possible that someone would take off his safety harness to go and retrieve a fallen hard hat?”

My response was that, just as there are no dumb questions, there’s nothing so dumb that someone hasn’t done it. In this case it was a worker at the Hanjin Shipyard at Subic Bay in the Philippines, which I can just about see from my roof.

The victim worked for a Korean contractor at the shipyard which has already totted up four of the 14 known fatalities at the site in the past year, and the second or third to die falling off a roof. The contractor’s services have, MAC understands, been terminated.

The worker was on the roof of the drydock, 29 metres up and attached to a safety harness. His hard hat fell off. When he couldn’t reach it, he released himself from the harness and, as he reached for his hardhat, slipped and fell to his death. He was wearing rubber flip-flops and recent rains may have made the roof slippery.

First, of course, had he worn his hard hat properly it wouldn’t have fallen off. Then he wouldn’t have felt it necessary to release himself from the harness to try and retrieve it. Then he wouldn’t have been killed.

Had he been wearing correct footwear, he might not have slipped.

While slightly different, The Case Of The Acidic Assassin features a similar situation in which a hard hat was not worn properly and may have contributed to a fatality.

Of course, there should have been a safety officer at the Hanjin site alert enough to spot what is a common a problem as workers wearing flip-flops at height (Yes, the victim wore those, too).

Make sure you wear your hard hat properly otherwise it will fall off and your head is nowhere near as hard as the hat, or the ground it’s going to hit.

Also, be safety aware not just for yourself, but your co-workers. Certainly, they might get annoyed if you tell them to put their hats on properly but maybe its better to accept the risk of being annoying than then risk of having to scrape their brains off the ground and into a bucket.