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 »