A member has reported an incident in which a crewman was injured whilst using a power tool in an incorrect manner. A crewman on night shift was required by the chief engineer to clean paint and corrosion off of the nuts on man-hole covers, so that the covers could be removed for inspection. He was instructed to perform this task using either a hand-held wire brush or a 4 inch angle grinder fitted with a wire wheel. These instructions were verbally acknowledged by the crewman, who had been employed on the vessel for nearly a year. Nonetheless he decided to use a 5mm grinding disk on the angle grinder instead of the wire wheel, and then proceeded to cut the threads off the bolts on the man-hole cover. As the grinding disk was being used in an incorrect manner, the disk jammed causing the grinder to deflect into his shoulder, cutting his boiler suit and causing bruising and a minor abrasion.
An investigation noted the following:
- Existing company procedures and clear instructions were not followed;
- Risk assessments had not been completed;
- The individual involved in the operation demonstrated a lack of safety awareness that put himself, his colleagues and the vessel at risk;
- The individual involved in the operation had received no training in this specific task.
The following lessons were learnt from the incident:
- Complacency with regard to the use of power tools must be guarded against;
- All persons involved in a task, from deck officers and supervisors to deck crew, should have a clear understanding of the nature of the task and their duties with regard to the task;
- All crew should have a deeper understanding of the requirement for risk assessment for all ‘routine’ and non-‘routine’ tasks;
- All crew members should be reminded of the importance of accepting personal responsibility for safety and that they all are empowered to stop work until safe operations are restored;
- Shipboard training and familiarisation should include specific training in particular tasks and equipment.
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