Finger injury: What happens when you DON’T use the right tool for the right job

What happened

A crewman attempted to remove the impeller from a fire pump using a hammer and punching rod. While he was hammering, a steel splinter of the punching rod (3-4 mm) chipped off and punctured his right hand.

The incident happened during corrective maintenance to a fire pump. The injured person was tasked by the Chief Engineer to disassemble the pump, as the Chief was busy with other work. The injured person observed that the impeller was stuck on its shaft due to misaligned splines between impeller and shaft. He started to attempt removal of the impeller by knocking out the shaft using a hammer and a steel punching rod. The punching rod splintered and the splinter went through the injured person’s glove and entered the soft tissues between thumb and index finger.

What went wrong/causes

  • The tools selected for the job were inadequate;
  • An adequate and correct gear puller specially designed for the task was not available on board;
  • Inadequate hand protection equipment was used for the task; cotton gloves were used instead of mechanical impact protection gloves, which were available onboard.

Lessons learnt

  • Ensure the right tools to do the job are available;
  • Proper PPE, whilst a last line of defence, can minimise consequences or prevent injuries from happening.