Transport Malta has issued its report on the death of a stevedore on board MV A Navigation during the discharge of a coal cargo in Port Kelang, Malaysia on April 1st 2018.
The accident appeared to have occurred on the upper platforms of enclosed hold access ladders due to the ignition of a pocket of methane gas
The A Navigation was alongside in Port Kelang, Malaysia, discharging a cargo of steamed coal. While the chief mate and the shore foreman were conducting a routine inspection of the cargo holds, a burning smell was noticed coming from the entrance hatch to cargo hold number 3. On investigation, they discovered the body of one of the stevedores, lying on the upper platform of the access ladder to the cargo hold. The stevedore had severe burns to his upper body and was without any personal protection equipment.
It was suspected, but not established for certain, that a pocket of methane gas and coal dust ignited at the top of the ladder. It was apparent that the stevedore had entered the compartment without prior consent, but his reason for so doing was unknown.
The fire happened after the grating had been opened. Auto-ignition of coal dust/methane can happen if the temperature is high enough to reach the auto-ignition temperature (around 530 °C). An electrical failure or spark was ruled out as the source of ignition. The safety investigation could not determine whether smoking took place inside the space, although no cigarette butts were found on site.