Skip to content

LTI: serious hand injury – fingers lost in unexpected hatch closure

What happened?

A crew person was checking the water tightness of the engine room’s emergency hatch cover. Safety lock pins, used to prevent the hatch cover from closing, were missing. To hold the hatch cover from closing, the crew person improvised using a nearby chain which he hooked to a hose support. However, the improvised arrangement failed and the hatch cover closed unexpectedly. The injured person had his left hand in the mouth of the hatch, and the hatch cover landed on his fingers. The  tips of his two longest fingers were very badly injured, and had to be amputated.

This incident contains a link to a graphic photograph of the injuries sustained.

Safety lock pins missing
Hatch cover held by chain and hooked to a hose support
Hatch cover held by chain and hooked to a hose support
Hand trapped by fallen hatch (RE-ENACTMENT)

What went wrong

  • Poor spatial awareness: the injured person was not aware of the pinch point; therefore he didn’t stop the job when he saw that there were no safety lock pins on the hatch;
  • The injured person improvised an inadequate and inappropriate method of securing the hatch cover;
  • The toolbox talk did not highlight potential hazards such as line of fire, pinch point, etc. and its mitigation.

What was the cause

Our member notes the cause as being an inadequate planned maintenance system which did not highlight the lack of safety-critical locking pins.

Lessons and actions

  • Review and modify existing planned maintenance system onboard to ensure it is properly implemented and is not just a “checklist tick”;
  • Reiterate importance of thorough toolbox talks before the job – take the time to think things through;
  • Don’t just improvise safety equipment – stop the job, think it through, get it right;
  • Are there areas in your work where you might be tempted to “just do it anyway?” without the right safety equipment?

Members may wish to refer to:

Safety Event

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

Relevant life-saving rules:
IMCA Safety Flashes
Submit a Report

IMCA Safety Flashes summarise key safety matters and incidents, allowing lessons to be more easily learnt for the benefit of all. The effectiveness of the IMCA Safety Flash system depends on Members sharing information and so avoiding repeat incidents. Please consider adding [email protected] to your internal distribution list for safety alerts or manually submitting information on incidents you consider may be relevant. All information is anonymised or sanitised, as appropriate.

IMCA’s store terms and conditions ( apply to all downloads from IMCA’s website, including this document.

IMCA makes every effort to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data contained in the documents it publishes, but IMCA shall not be liable for any guidance and/or recommendation and/or statement herein contained. The information contained in this document does not fulfil or replace any individual’s or Member's legal, regulatory or other duties or obligations in respect of their operations. Individuals and Members remain solely responsible for the safe, lawful and proper conduct of their operations.