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Serious hand injury during mooring operations

What happened

A dock worker suffered a serious hand injury during mooring operations. The incident occurred as the vessel was prepared for departure from the berth. The mooring foreman signalled the team to let go, keeping one line on the bollard. The injured person grabbed the rope at the end of the eye near the area of the splice and began to remove it from the bollard. Halfway through removing it from the bollard, the rope suddenly tightened, causing the eye of the rope to catch onto the side of the bollard while his right hand got stuck in between two ropes. The injured person was able to pull out his hand from the trapped gloves and shout for help, before receiving first aid.

Position of injured person
Signalling to vessel crew to slack while approaching the line
Grabbing the rope at the end of the eye
Hand caught between the two ropes

What went wrong

  • There was a lack of planning, a lack of risk assessment, a lack of forethought: the injured party put their hand in the line of fire;
  • Insufficient slack was provided in the rope when the dock worker attempted to grab the spring line from the bollard. As the ship’s crew attempted to slack the spring line, tension mounted and caused the rope to tighten on the vessel’s winch;
  • The absence of a messenger or tail line attached to the ship’s mooring lines.

Lessons learned

  • Stop and think before acting – take the time to think things through;
  • Keep your hands and fingers out of the line of fire;
  • Be ready to stop the job if someone else is looking as though they are putting themselves or others at risk.

Members may wish to refer to

Safety Event

Published: 3 October 2023
Download: IMCA SF 23/23

Relevant life-saving rules:
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