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Secured material fell against crewman causing injury

What happened

A crewman was injured when a stack of assorted sheet metal and wood fell against him.  The incident occurred when he was performing a safety walk round in preparation for a period of rough weather. He identified that the material was not secured sufficiently; it was seen to be rocking against the vessel’s superstructure. This material had previously been stored in an area without any protection from outside environmental conditions. It had been decided some 6 months previously, to move it to its present position, a covered passageway.

What went wrong

The sheets of material were secured with two webbing cargo ratchet straps hooked onto the surrounding ship’s superstructure. In the process of removing slack from one of the webbing straps, the other loosened, resulting in both straps disengaging. At that point, movement of the vessel caused the unsecured rack to fall towards the crewman. He was unable to prevent the rack from falling on him and became pinned under the sheet material with most of the weight being taken on his right thigh.  He called for help from a nearby colleague and was rescued. The following day he was able to visit a hospital ashore for X-rays to his leg, where no fractures of bones were detected, and he returned to his duties on board.

Old storage arrangements
location of injured person

Improved storage arrangmements

Lessons learned/actions taken

  • Storage of such material
    • Ensure appropriate risk assessment is developed;
    • Consider whether or not sheet material, particularly metal, needs to be stored onboard;
    • Develop new and improved safer securing arrangments.

Our member took this as an opporunity for discussion at toolbox talks, including the following:

  • Lone working should be discussed during start of shift/task toolbox talks, and crew should seek help from colleagues when necessary;
  • How is change managed during a task, particularly with respect to worsening weather at sea, and most especially during lifting operations;
  • How can we improve our toolbox talks:
    • When should we hold a toolbox talk? E.g. before start of routine or only higher risk/non-routine tasks?
    • A routine operation may become non-routine due to a very small change, with new risks being introduced.
    • A toolbox talk or meeting before a routine task is an opportunity to discuss the individual steps within an operation and where there things could change from the routine. When these changes are identified, any possible new risks can be discussed, and plans put in place for mitigation.  Further to this, a toolbox talk may be held when change from the planned or routine has occurred during an operation.

Members may wish to refer to:

Safety Event

Published: 5 January 2021
Download: IMCA SF 02/21

Relevant life-saving rules:
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