Makeshift Hold Cleaning Platform Led to Serious Injury

Credit: ATSB
Source: ATSB

Published Oct 30, 2019 6:43 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has released its report into the injury of two crewmen on a bulk carrier, highlighting the importance of following procedures and applying best practice.  

On January 11, 2018, bulk carrier Berge Daisetsu was berthed in Portland, Victoria. A team of six crewmembers were cleaning and painting the cargo hold under the supervision of the chief mate. While the vessel did not have portable scaffolding equipment or approved suspended access platforms for this task, the master discussed other options with the chief mate and bosun for how the upper sections of the hold could be tended to.

The decision was made to jury-rig a portable gangway into a work stage which could then be suspended from the cargo crane hook via slings. The ship’s crewmembers had several discussions, made plans and completed a risk assessment in accordance with the safety management system requirements. However, the equipment and machinery use was contrary to company policy and procedures.

As two crewmembers worked aloft on the platform suspended from the cargo crane, the crane’s block caught on the coaming and suddenly came free, sending an unexpected heavy shock into the platform. The two crewmembers were knocked over by the force of the sudden movement and landed heavily on their knees and lower body, causing serious injury.

The ATSB investigation found that the equipment and machinery were not suitable for the task, making hazard identification difficult, and exposed the workers to increased risk.

The investigation also found that the fall arrest equipment used was incorrectly attached to the workers on the suspended platform. Consequently, had either of them fallen from the platform, the equipment would not have worked correctly, resulting in serious or fatal injuries.

As a result of the incident, Berge Bulk Maritime has completed the supply of approved working aloft equipment to its geared bulk carriers and is progressing modification of vessel cranes for personnel lifting. Specific working aloft and bulk carrier safety training has been conducted and made mandatory for crewmembers every two years.

The ATSB report is available here.