Near miss: dropped magnet during dry docking

What happened?

There was a dropped object near miss incident involving a magnet which was used by subcontractors during hot work operations.  The incident occurred during a dry docking.  Part of the scope of work involved hot work, grinding and gouging, to be carried out from scaffolding put up against the ships funnel.  As a dropped object prevention measure, the scaffolding had been partially enclosed on three sides, with the fourth side being against the funnel.

During an inspection of ongoing work, it was noted that sparks were escaping the fire protection and it was requested that the gap in the protection was closed.  It was at this time, while the fire protection was being adjusted, that an object fell from the scaffold to the dock; a drop of 32m.  The object was later identified as being a magnet which had been used to hold fire protection against the ships funnel.  There was no damage and no injuries.

What went wrong?  What were the causes?

  • The worksite was directly above the dock and no barriers had been placed on the dock to prevent workers from gaining access to the area directly below the worksite;
  • Sub-contractors were using magnets on site and at height without any secondary retention in place. This was not known to the vessel crew;
  • The magnets in use had been engineered to allow fitting of eyelets for secondary retention, but the fitting of secondary retention eyelets had not been considered by the shipyard.
A magnet used to secure fire protection
The dropped magnet – note hole for retention eyelet
Similar magnet with secondary retention eyelet fitted

What lessons learned

  • Our member noted that there was anecdotal evidence that magnets are routinely used in shipyards for securing against the ship superstructure. This should be taken into account on future worksites;
  • Ensure that all equipment being used at height is identified and suitable dropped object prevention controls are in place.