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Safety Corner

Welcome to the second episode of the IMCA Safety Corner. I thank those who have provided me with positive and encouraging feedback. Please keep it coming.

You can read this Safety Corner or alternatively listen to a short podcast below.

My focus will remain on Safety Flashes for the moment. Several recent Safety Flashes have captured people’s attention. One of these involved an explosion of a pressurized cylinder in a lifeboat, which lead to three crew being injured. Two suspected causes of the cylinder failure were firstly, Galvanic corrosion, and secondly, the fact that the cylinders were submerged in bilge water for an extended period. These might be issues worth looking at more closely. Lifeboats and life rafts frequently crop up in IMCA Safety Flashes, and indeed only in recent times do we read in the news that two people were injured in a lifeboat drill on board a ship no less prestigious than the research vessel Sir David Attenborough.

IMCA Contact

Nicholas Hough
Consultant – Safety and Security

The mechanisms that permit the deployment and recovery of lifeboats and life rafts, may be difficult to inspect and maintain. There may be considerable stored energy involved in such systems. Hard to spot corrosion is something that often “makes the news” in IMCA Safety Flashes. It’s not the regular stuff that gets us: it’s the things that we might think are OK, that need to be checked out carefully. This is even more the case with Galvanic corrosion, that process where one of two dissimilar metals in contact and exposed to sea water, corrodes more easily than the other.

The other incident that was flagged up to me was the case published by the Marine Safety Investigation Unit of Transport Malta, outlining three man overboard fatalities. From the technical challenge of making a planned inspection of a remote and difficult to access corner, we move to a case where failure to follow even the most basic or commonsense rules, led to a tragic loss of life. Everyone wants to get the job done. Everyone wants even more, to be able to go home to their family at the end of the hitch. We must remind ourselves that we can “stop the job” at any time, difficult though that may seem at the time.

We’ve just published an updated safety Flash on a tragic fatality which occurred in the industry late last year. There’s no sense whatsoever in which we in IMCA can rest on our laurels when I say that an IMCA member was not involved. In this incident, a crewman suffered fatal crush injuries when stored materials in a ship fell against him. He and his colleague were performing loose lifting gear inspections on deck. They were looking at the fastenings for a load of vertically stacked metal plates weighing two tonnes. We’ll never really know the full story, of course, but for a number of reasons, the stacked metal plates came loose under their own weight. They fell against one of the crew members, causing fatal injuries. Let us, then, learn the lessons – be aware of the “line of fire”. Look out for risk and be aware of what’s happening around us. Remember, we can STOP THE JOB!! Look out for when circumstances change – how do we manage that change? Don’t just press on, but stop and consider.

As part of ISO 9001 certification, we have to ensure that our guidance is regularly reviewed and up to date. We’ve re-published HSSE 029 Mooring practice safety guidance for offshore vessels when alongside in ports and harbours. This has seen a thorough review last year and early this year by members of the HSSE Core Committee, the Marine Division Management Committee, and the Renewable Energy Committee. We’ve also re-issued HSSE 007, the Basic safety training and vessel induction for non-marine personnel working offshore. This document sets out aspects that should be covered in basic training for non-marine personnel working on board a vessel and offers examples of topics to be covered in basic training programmes. It sits alongside two other documents, these being HSSE 003 Guidance on the initial and refresher familiarisation of vessel crews, and C 018 Basic Safety Training Requirements for Personnel Employed in the Offshore Renewable Energy Sector.

Later this year we have a whole bunch of work today, looking at five or six other documents – keeping the material you need, as up to date and as relevant as possible.

Finally, we’ll touch briefly on safety statistics. Since the beginning of this year, IMCA contractor members have been sending us their 2020 safety statistics, and we have now published the 2020 safety data live on the web: I’ll be covering this in slightly more detail elsewhere, of course, as this is an important part of IMCA’s work. The collected data show similar Total Recordable and Lost Time Injury rates to previous years, and a continued improvement in Safety observation reporting. Close analysis of the figures may beg questions about the effects of the pandemic on safety and on safety reporting, but that’s possibly one for the HSSE Core Committee to discuss, as they meet in mid-May.

Drawing to a close then, stay safe and I’ll speak with you next time!

Nick Hough

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