Near-miss: Internal bell door

A member company has reported a near miss which occurred recently when a fitting failed due to corrosion. This was part of the hydraulic system for the handling of the dive bell’s inner door. This caused the bell door to fall shut of its own accord during a dive, narrowly missing the bellman’s feet.

The company has noted that the following points raised by this undesired event:

  • all of the pipes and fittings that form part of the bell door handling system should have been made of stainless steel – this particular fitting wasn’t;
  • inner bottom doors should have been secured in the open position by a gravity-driven ‘automatic’ latch. It notes that a manual device, such as a safety chain and clip arrangement, is not appropriate as a primary device, as it requires a deliberate action to operate. This could potentially be forgotten, as has been the case on past occasions.

The company has instructed each of its dive teams to inspect the bell door arrangements on their vessel and confirm to the company’s diving manager the configuration of door arrangements. Where any non-conformities are found in relation to the advice given by the company as above, the team should indicate a programme for rectification.

The company has asked that its bulletin be transmitted to relevant personnel on local dive ships, including sub-contracted ships, other relevant offshore worksites and workshop-based technicians, all of whom should be aware of this issue.