A person was seriously injured when he was struck by the end of a 58mm anchor wire. The incident occurred when crew were working on replacing out several 58mm anchor wires. The injured person was walking behind an anchor winch which had a single turn of wire remaining on it. The vessel moved off the quay. Tension came on the wire, which was connected to a spooler ashore. The stoppers in use failed, and the wire end pulled free of the already loosened clamps, whipping over the drum. He was struck across the shoulders/lower neck and suffered several skull fractures when he was pushed into an adjacent bulkhead by the impact, before falling to the deck semi-conscious.
What went right?
- The crew had safely replaced three of the 58mm wires over the previous five days without incident;
- The first aid and subsequent hospital care were excellent, and the injured person left hospital three days later with no lasting ill effects.
What went wrong?
- A generic ‘mooring operations’ risk assessment was being used. Toolbox Talks had been conducted and documented, but these were based around a clearly inadequate risk assessment (and nobody questioned it during the TBT);
- The stopper arrangement was inadequate. Wires must only ever be stoppered to a suitable strong point using chain stoppers, as detailed in the Code of safe working practices for merchant seafarers (COSWP) 2021;
- Safety chains had not been deployed behind the winch. At that stage of the operation, there was a ‘Line of Fire’ hazard (an alternative route would only have taken about twenty seconds more);
- Insufficient attention was being paid to the tension on the wire by the spooler operators;
- Perceived time pressures and fatigue may also have been factors.
- More thorough planning and more thorough risk assessment would have eliminated most of the several factors which contributed to this incident.
- Adequate time and resources should be allowed in operational plans to allow for effective risk assessment; both vessel crew, project crew and shore-based management have responsibilities in this respect.
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