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Finger injury during lifting operations

What happened

With a vessel alongside, crew were using the vessel crane to move a pallet of cylinders (part of the vessel’s hydraulic system) from one deck to another. This was in preparation for departure from port. The Second Engineer passed by and decided to assist the crew in positioning the pallet. When the pallet was moved into place, the engineer got one of his hands trapped below one of the cylinders, and the middle finger of his right hand was pinched and injured.

First aid was provided and the injured person was transferred to a local clinic for further medical examination. The vessel had to sail without him; he did light duties ashore afterward. The incident was classified as a RWC (Restricted Work Case).

What went wrong

  • None of the crew involved in the lifting activity had had any formal training in lifting in spite of company procedures requiring this;
  • The Second Engineer intervened to help – with the best of intentions – when he ought not have done. He was not part of the lifting crew, he did not attend the toolbox talk, nor was he part of the risk assessment discussions;
  • No-one stopped the job – any one of the crew had the authority and obligation to stop the job and take time out to think things through;
  • The Second Engineer was not wearing any gloves at the time as he was not part of the job.

What was the cause

Congestion with other material and equipment made moving these cylinders necessary.


  • Don’t just pitch in and help without thinking – that may not be any help at all!
  • Keep the workplace neat, tidy and uncongested;
  • Use the right PPE and gloves before starting work;
  • Stop the job and rethink if the circumstances change.

Members may wish to refer to:

Safety Event

Published: 13 July 2023
Download: IMCA SF 17/23

Relevant life-saving rules:
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