MAIB says absence of identified safe zones on scallop dredger was factor in death

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB)’s report into the death of an Indonesian crew member of scallop dredger Olivia Jean (IMO 7907867) on June 28th 2019, 39 miles off the coast off Aberdeen has identified a number of factors in the man’s death.

The MAIB said that the Olivia Jean’s engineer suffered fatal crush injuries because he stepped into the narrow gap between the dredge gear and the accommodation superstructure while the skipper was trying to free the snagged gear using the hauling winch.  The engineer was probably struck by the towing bar as it swung inboard when the skipper released the snagged gear.

The engineer might not have been aware that the gear had become snagged, and thought it safe to approach the dredge gear when it came to rest. His actions might have been influenced by an eagerness to make good his earlier omission, when he forgot to unhook the aft securing chain.

The skipper lost oversight of the deck crew. He was unaware that the engineer had moved toward the dredge gear and continued to operate the winches after he entered the danger zone.

MAIB said that if the crew had been wearing head protection while working on deck during dredge gear lifting operations, as required by the vessel’s risk assessments, the severity of the engineer’s head injuries would probably have been reduced.

The deck operations at the time of the accident were not being properly supervised or controlled. The skipper and engineer had both become task focused after things started to go wrong, and neither had a full understanding of the situation as it developed.

MAIB said that the deck crew’s lack of proficiency in English, the working language of the vessel, “undoubtedly had an adverse effect on the levels of communication on board Olivia Jean, and potentially contributed to a lack of understanding of the skipper’s intentions when re-positioning the dredge equipment”.

TN Enterprises Ltd’s safety management system did not meet the standards recommended in the FSM Code, and some of the shortfalls identified during the investigation were similar to those identified in previous MAIB investigations.

Safe zones for the crew, clear of the dredge gear and in line of sight of the winch operator during hauling and shooting operations, had not been identified. Neither had the crew completed the mandatory Safety Awareness and Risk Assessment training required by MGN 411 for all foreign seafarers before joining a UK fagged fishing vessel for the first time.

The company employed foreign nationals across its feet, but did not use a consistent method for assessing levels of English language comprehension before they were engaged and did not ensure that they could understand written shipboard documentation.

The crewman had replaced two worn dredges on the towing bar and stood clear as the skipper used the winches and derrick to lift and realign the gear against the vessel’s tipping door. Unfortunately, one of the towing bar’s securing chains had not been released and the dredge gear became snagged. Although the skipper shouted instructions to the crewman to remain clear as he attempted to free the gear, the crewman stepped between the snagged bar and the accommodation superstructure just as the snagged bar released and swung inboard. The accident happened out of the skipper’s line of sight,  and he was relying on a CCTV screen behind him to monitor the area.

Recommendations have been made to the ‘Olivia Jean’s managers, TN Enterprises Ltd, to improve safety on board its fleet. TN Enterprises has undertaken a number of actions to prevent the repetition of such an event and to mitigate the chance of severe injury should one occur.

1980-built, UK flagged, 242 gt Olivia Jean is owned and managed by Olivia Jean Ltd of Annan, UK. As of May 20th the vessel was in port at Shoreham, West Sussex, UK.