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Finger injury whilst casting off towing line

A member has reported an incident in which a crew member sustained a finger injury whilst trying to cast off a towing line. The crew member was asked to cast the line off from a bollard on the forecastle deck of the vessel. The towing line was slackened sufficiently to allow the line to be removed from the bollard. When the crew person tried to lift the eye of the towing line, a sudden high swell pushed the vessel astern and the tow line came under tension. The fingers of the crew person’s left hand were trapped between the towing line and the bollard. The master responded immediately and caused the vessel to move ahead, causing the towing line tension to be released and releasing the trapped hand. The crew person suffered the loss of the middle finger nail and slight swelling on two fingers and was given first aid.

The following lessons were drawn from the incident:

  • Weather and sea conditions should be taken into account when undertaking a risk assessment;
  • Good seamanship techniques should be followed: in this case the warping drum could have been used to take off the tension from the towing line. If a warping drum is not available for use then rope/chain stoppers should always be used while casting off mooring lines and towing lines.
Mooring rope and bollard; injured finger
Mooring rope and bollard; injured finger

Safety Event

Published: 4 February 2008
Download: IMCA SF 02/08

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