Pallet failure: High potential dropped object during lifting operations

What happened?

A wooden pallet broke whilst it was being lifted during mobilisation, causing its load to fall to deck.  There was no injury to personnel nor was there any damage to equipment.  The pallet load consisted of two drums containing lifting master links and was lifted onboard from the quay using basket slung arrangements.  When the load was approaching its final laydown area, part of the pallet broke, causing the load to invert and the drums to drop onto the ROV hydraulic power unit (HPU) equipment on deck and then onto the deck itself.  Part of the contents of one of the drums was also released.

What went wrong?  What were the causes

  • The practice to basket sling a pallet had become the ‘norm’ following the pallet lifter being sent away for repair 5 weeks earlier; a replacement was not sourced;
  • Personnel failed to comply with lifting guidelines, best practice, lift plans and task risk assessments;
  • Personnel involved in the lifting operations did not intervene or challenge this unsafe lifting practice;
  • There was ineffective and inadequate supervision and control of lifting operations;
  • The drums containing the master links were not decanted into dedicated lift baskets prior to arrival at quayside.

What actions were taken?  What lessons were learned?

  • Further discussion of ‘stop work authority’ and the importance of feeling able to intervene or challenge when faced with unsafe practices;
  • Ensure that there is a pallet lifter onboard, fit for purpose and certified for use;
  • Consider decanting lifting equipment and accessories into dedicated lift baskets prior to transportation to the quayside/vessel (this is also relevant to all other equipment too);
  • Ensure and verify all personnel involved in, supporting and controlling lifting operations fully understand lifting operations processes, procedures and good practice compliance requirements;
  • Ensure and verify all personnel involved in supporting and controlling lifting operations review and sign off on existing vessel and site-specific lift plans and lifting operations task risk assessments, to verify their compliance and understanding of risk control measures and mitigations.