Marine officer death result of “inherently unsafe situation” says MAIB

The death of a chief officer in Thailand after he fell down a hole in the crankshaft web onto the deck after losing his balance, was the result of an “inherently unsafe situation”, according to the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB), which has released its investigation report into the death.

On May 11th 2016 the chief officer on board UK-registered general cargo ship Johanna C fell from a large steel cargo unit that was being repositioned in the vessel’s forward hold. The injured man was moved ashore and taken to a local hospital by ambulance, but died shortly after arrival. The investigation found that:

1) It was inherently unsafe and unnecessary for the chief officer to stand on top of the cargo while it was being lifted; the risks of standing on a load under tension were not appreciated. “Standing on top of the crankshaft web, which was 1.35 meters (4.4 feet) above the deck and being lifted, was inherently unsafe and unnecessary. The web could either have been re-hoisted and re-landed without any change in work method, or it could have been secured where it landed, albeit slightly askew from its intended position,” the report said

2) The chief officer lost his balance and fell onto the deck following the sudden and unexpected movement of the cargo and/or its lifting slings as the cargo was lifted. The sudden and unexpected movement of the cargo and /or its slings was possibly due to the slings slipping from their intended positions.

3) The crew’s response following the chief officer’s fall was immediate and positive. The chief officer was semi-conscious and, although he was lying in a very awkward position, this did not delay his initial survey and treatment.

Following the accident, Carisbrooke Shipping Ltd, Johanna C’s manager, has prohibited its crews from standing on loads under tension. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has also taken action to include the dangers of standing on loads being lifted in its Code of Safe Working Practices. In view of the action already taken, no recommendations have been made.