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Serious finger injury in power operated watertight sliding door

What happened

A crew person suffered a very serious finger injury in a watertight sliding door. The incident occurred when engine crew were heading to a storage area for an inventory check. As they passed through a power operated watertight sliding door, a team member pushed the “open” button, and at the same time the vessel rolled with the swell. The injured person lost balance and reached out to grab for support. He caught the sliding door while opening and trapped his middle right finger between the door and the bulkhead resulting in a serious injury. Our member classified the injury as an RWC (Restricted Workday case). There is a graphic image of the injured finger here for reference purposes (not for the squeamish.)

What went wrong

  • Improper communication of hazards in the working area;
  • Lack of a hazard zone to limit people in the “line of fire” area.

What was the cause

  • Our member noted that the injured person was in an improper position for the task he was conducting, at a time of adverse sea conditions;
  • Perhaps because it was “only a door” the crew did not take seriously enough, the dangers of being too close to powered machinery in motion;
  • There was a lack of:
    • Instruction and understanding of how to behave near powered watertight doors;
    • Identification of the risk involved in being near the door whilst it was in motion;
    • Engineered barriers to prevent the incident from having happened at all.

Lessons and actions

  • Powered watertight doors are potentially very hazardous, and can be lethal if not treated properly. Keep a strong focus on watertight door safety;
  • Keep away from powered watertight doors whilst they are in motion: our member marked up and enforced a “no-go zone during door operation” policy for watertight sliding doors;
  • Stop and think
    • Where else might there be similar entrapment/crush hazards?
    • What might you have done personally, to avoid this from happening to you?
    • Is a powered sliding door any different from any other moving machine part that which would be barriered off and guarded?

Members should refer also to the following recent incidents:

Safety Event

Published: 13 July 2023
Download: IMCA SF 17/23

Relevant life-saving rules:
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