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Near-miss: Bilge cover left open

A member has reported an incident in which a bilge cover was left open. During a ‘routine’ walk around the vessel, crew noticed in the engine room that a bilge cover had been left open. There was no barrier or signage in place. On investigation the bilge cover had been opened to permit brine pump maintenance work. This work had been interrupted and the employees had left the job, putting in place no safety precautions, but with the intent of returning later.

Our member noted that there had recently been two similar near misses in which covers have been left open in the engine rooms on company vessels. The investigation and lessons learned has been included to the monthly fleet safety meeting presentations and distributed to all fleet for discussion, but the lessons were clearly not being learned.

Our member took the following actions:

  • Stopped the job: the opened engine room bilge covers were closed and returned to a safe condition;
  • A safety stand down was conducted with focus on maintaining and following the correct control of work procedures.

Key Lessons Learnt:

  • Maintenance processes in the engine room should be planned, all risks assessed with further implementation of control measures where needed;
  • Any openings or potential trip hazards should be controlled to ensure any risk is as low as reasonably practical;
  • There should be effective supervision at all times;
  • Vessel crews ‘not learning the lessons’ – further effort required to address this.

Members may wish to refer to the following incidents (search words: hatch, open):

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