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Injury caused by closing fire flap

What happened?

A crewman was injured when there was an uncontrolled and unplanned closure of a fire flap.  The crewman was filling an expansion tank through the engine room ventilation trunking, when the release mechanism for the fire damper was activated unintentionally, causing the fire damper to close on his left wrist, resulting in a wound.

What went wrong?

The injured person filled the expansion tank in a way not detailed in procedures, via the filler cap from above, through the induction fan trunking. There was a company standard operating procedure for this and he did not follow it.  The procedure for filling/topping up the high-temperature cooling system was via a portable pump with suction direct from a 20/25 litre drum. This system was in place due to the problematic location of the expansion tank filling cap in the engine room.

What were the causes?

  • No physical action was taken on board to locate the pump;
  • There was no risk assessment into this nonstandard way of conducting the activity;
  • The available transfer system available in the engine room was not used;
  • Uncontrolled release of the fire damper;
  • The man’s arm was in the line of fire.

Actions taken? Lessons learned?

  • Ensure no improvisations are replacing designed, approved systems on board. Where not functional, work orders/defects should be documented and if in doubt, assistance sought for clarification or suitable management of change process;
  • Risk assessment should be conducted for non-routine tasks;
  • Don’t cut corners – crew should be reminded of the dangers of skipping or avoiding steps important to a task.

Members may wish to refer to the following injuries, both arising from taking short-cuts.

See also:

Safety Event

Published: 6 December 2020
Download: IMCA SF 33/20

Relevant life-saving rules:
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