Able seaman injured when vessel moved during cargo operations

A member has reported an incident in which someone was injured during cargo operations, as a result of the vessel pitching and rolling. The incident occurred when the vessel was engaged in offloading a food compactor to a jack-up barge. The load was connected to the barge crane and was ready to lift up onto the barge, when it was observed by the lifting crew that one shackle on the compactor was stuck in the wrong position, rendering the load unsafe to lift.

The lift team leader on deck immediately informed the crane operator of the barge via VHF and requested slack on the crane wire in order to clear the stuck shackle. The crane operator lowered the cargo and once it rested on the deck of the vessel, the injured person went to clear/correct the problem and re-arrange the shackle. As he did so, due to slight to moderate pitch and roll, there was a movement of the vessel which caused the load to lift and move towards the injured person, hitting him in the chest. The injured person was taken ashore to hospital for further examination and treatment. Following examination, he was found to be unharmed and fit for work.

Our member noted the following:

  • The injured person confirmed that he was vigilant and alert and had noticed the movements of the compactor towards him. He had attempted to escape from the area, but it was too late and he was struck by the food compactor and injured;
  • The immediate cause was a sudden movement of the vessel due to weather condition, sea and swell, which in turn caused slight movement of the food compactor which hit the injured person;
  • A root cause was determined to be lack of supervision on deck.

Our member noted the following lessons learned:

  • There should be timely reporting and follow-up related to any unsafe act/procedure/condition;
  • The importance of toolbox talks/job hazard analysis, risk assessment and procedures could not be underestimated;
  • Better team work in this incident might have led to a different outcome;
  • Care should be taken with respect to space constraints on deck during lifting operations;
  • The capability of the individual to handle/tackle should be taken into consideration;
  • It is important to ensure that the persons in charge of lifting operations fully understand their roles and responsibilities and provide effective supervision.