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MAIB: Unsecured Hatch Cover Killed AB

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Image courtesy MAIB

By The Maritime Executive 2018-12-14 13:38:28

The UK's Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has released its report on the death of a crewmember of the Liberian-flagged freighter SMN Explorer, who died when he was crushed when the hatch cover for the fo’c’s’le stowage compartment fell on him. 

The crewman, Alfred Ismaili, was part of a working party stowing cargo slings used for the discharge of the ship’s cargo. The accident occurred when he climbed up the inside of the open hatch cover after its locking pins had been removed.

On the morning of January 31, the Explorer berthed at Alexandra Dock, King’s Lynn, England. At 0800,stevedores began discharging the vessel’s cargo from the deck. At 1700, the stevedores left the vessel and cargo operations ended for the day. 

They returned the next morning and resumed their work. At about 0900, the C/O used the forward crane to open the hatch to the fo’c’s’le stowage space. With the hatch cover resting on its backstops and its lifting slings still attached to the crane hook, the C/O inserted locking pins into holes in the hatch cover hinges (Figure 1 below). He disconnected the crane hook and hung the lifting slings over the top edge of the open hatch cover. 

The  fo’c’s’le hatch and its locking arrangements (MAIB)

The stevedores completed discharging the cargo at 1100 and a dockside crane was used to lift the ship’s cargo slings back on board. At 1105, the C/O, the vessel’s second officer and an AB began arranging the cargo slings in the fo’c’s’le stowage space. At 1120, the vessel’s second AB, Alfred Ismaili, joined the team and helped to stow the remaining slings.

At 1124, the second officer climbed down to the fo’c’s’le head space, started the foremast crane hydraulic powerpack and passed the crane’s remote control box to the C/O. Meanwhile, Ismaili walked around the starboard side of the open hatch cover and the other AB walked around the port side.

Each AB removed the locking pin from the hatch cover hinge closest to them. As the C/O lowered the crane hook, Ismaili climbed over the fo’c’s’le stowage space hatch combing and
walked over the cargo slings to the hatch cover. 

The positions of the deck crew just prior to the accident (MAIB)

Ismaili then climbed up the inside of the hatch cover, using the framing as hand and foot holds, and reached up to grab the lifting slings. As he did so the hatch cover fell forward, trapping him between the hatch cover and the hatch coaming.

The C/O and the other AB tried to manually lift the hatch cover to release Ismaili, but it was too heavy. The deck crew raised the alarm and attracted the attention of the dockside crane driver, who swung his crane jib back over the fo’c’s’le. At 1126, the hatch cover was raised by the dockside crane and Ismaili was lifted unconscious on to the deck, where he received first aid. At 1140, paramedics arrived on board SMN Explorer, but they were unable to revive Ismaili, and he was declared dead at the scene.

In its final report, MAIB concluded that: 

- the accident occurred because the routine deck operation was not adequately planned or supervised

- the vessel’s safety management system was immature: some routine deck operations had not been risk assessed and safe systems of work had not been developed

- the vessel’s lifting appliances had not been properly maintained

- a weak safety culture was evident on board SMN Explorer.

The agency recommended that the vessel's manager:

- improve the system of work for closing SMN Explorer’s foredeck hatch; 

- and, across its managed fleet, take steps to improve the shipboard safety culture.