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Near-miss: Dropped objects

A member has reported an incident on an offshore platform in which three scaffold boards fell 4m from one deck to another. The incident occurred when the scaffold boards were being lowered in vertical bundles of three boards through a hatch opening on the cellar deck. The crew were using a timber hitch and a half hitch on a 19mm hemp rope fed through a shackle attached to a beam clamp. Whilst lifting the bundle of three boards over the handrail of the hatch, the knot holding the boards together contacted the handrail, causing it to loosen. This resulted in the three boards falling to the temporary deck (+24m level) four metres below. One of the boards then ricocheted off and fell a further 15 metres, landing in an area where two painters were working. The scaffold plank grazed one of the painters on the arm before coming to rest. The painter was assessed by the medic, but no treatment was required.

View through Cellar Deck Opening to +24m landing
View through Cellar Deck Opening to +24m landing
View from Sub Cellar deck +24 m level
View from Sub Cellar deck +24 m level

An investigation revealed the following:

  • Work preparation and risk assessment was not adequate – the HIRA controls had been ‘ticked off’ and yet not followed, and the work method was inappropriate for the volume of scaffolding being moved;
  • Improper rigging practices were used – the rope was rigged over a shackle rather than using a gin wheel;
  • Three boards were being lowered at once – industry practice is for two boards at once as a maximum.

The following lessons and actions were identified:

  • Local scaffolding guidelines were updated to reflect industry practice of no more than two boards to be lowered at a time;
  • Dropped object zones need to account for potential deflection.

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