Skip to content

Near-miss during cable handling – Standing in the bight

A member has reported a near miss potential ‘line of fire’ incident during cable handling operations in which a member of the deck crew stood close to a heavy duty cable that was about to come under tension. With the recovered cable bight secured to a deck stopper, one of the deck crew was working in the vicinity of the cable just prior to cutting the bight. The Master observed the crew members’ unsafe position and exercised a ‘top work’ to prevent potential injury.

Diagram outlining positions at the time
Diagram outlining positions at the time “Stop Work” was exercised
Diagram outlining the crewman's position
Diagram outlining the crewman’s position – directly in the ‘line of fire’ if the cable had been cut. The hatched area indicates the ‘snap back’ zone and the red ilne the possible path of the cable

A Safety Observation was raised and discussed at the Safety Committee meeting, and all deck crew were reminded of ‘lines of fire’ and to keep clear of ‘snap back zones’ in the vicinity of cable, wires and ropes.

The incident serves to reiterate the need for awareness of the ‘line of fire’ and ‘snap back zones’. Whenever working with cables, wires and ropes, be aware of the surroundings and any actual or potential hazards. Watch out for team mates – keep an eye on all colleagues to ensure they are safe at all times. Never be afraid to ‘stop work’ whenever unsafe acts or conditions are encounters, stop the job and do not restart until you are safe to do so.

Whilst this is not strictly a mooring incident, the issues involved – wires and ropes under tension, risk of snap-back, standing in the ‘line of fire’ -are the same. members may wish to refer to the following incidents:

Guidance and safety promotional is also available from IMCA:

Safety Event

Published: 1 September 2016
Download: IMCA SF 22/16

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.