Restricted work case (RWC): Injury to eye during deck washing

A member has reported an incident in which a crew member was injured while washing down the main deck. While washing, the hose had developed a twist. The crew member, an Ordinary Seaman, wedged the nozzle between his left hand and chest and tried to remove the twist with the other hand. He lost control of the nozzle which resulted in the water jetting onto his face. The impact was directly onto his goggles, which were blown off by the sudden release of water pressure, allowing water to enter directly impact his right eye. He suffered corneal abrasion and slight bleeding. First aid was given on board.

Our member’s findings were as follows:

  • There was a lack of situational awareness;
  • There were inadequate resources for the job in hand – no-one was there to assist;
  • The correct PPE was being worn;
  • Immediate cause: clearing twist(s) in a pressurised water hose without first securing it to prevent uncontrolled movement due to the rapid increase of water pressure;
  • Causal factor: inadequate resources and inadequate supervision;
  • Root cause: The risk was seen as tolerable, as this (cleaning the deck with pressurised hoses) was a ‘routine’ recurring task. Also there was a lack of situational awareness and a failure to reassess potential safety hazards and thus consider a different course of action.

Our member took the following preventative actions:

  • Further on board training for crew in safe handling of hoses under pressure;
  • Ensured adequate resources stationed where required;
  • Ensured better supervision by heads of department;
  • Consideration of visored safety helmets, which will act as additional protection;
  • Tie a tail rope near the nozzle that will help secure a pressurised hose to the ship’s structure before clearing twists or operating the main valve.