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Shipyard worker receives electrical shock

What happened

A shipyard worker received a serious electrical shock onboard a vessel in dry dock.  The incident occurred when a shipyard welding team were setting up equipment outside on  the main deck. 

A welder was uncoiling a 380v extension lead which would be used to provide power to his welding plant. One end of the  extension cable was connected to the shipyard electrical distribution box located on the main deck and the other was coiled up and suspended on a nearby cable pole.   

As he routed the cable the welder had to walk through the pools of water which had gathered due to the inclement weather, to get the cable positioned correctly near his welding machine. Whilst carrying out this task, his hand came into contact with a damaged section of the extension cable which resulted in him receiving an electric shock.

As a result of the electric current passing through his body he was unable to release his grip on the cable. A nearby colleague heard him cry out and took decisive action to kick him clear of the cable. This was enough to release the cable from his hand.  He reported to the local hospital for cautionary checks and no abnormalities were noted, and was released that evening.

power supply extension cable
Welding plant
Damaged section of three-phase cable
Shipyard electrical distribution box

What went wrong/what were the causes?

The following findings were identified:

  • The electric cable outer sheathing was damaged with the inner cores exposed. The plug socket end cap was also broken off;
  • The equipment was not visually inspected prior to use
  • No RCD’s (residual current breaker) were installed in the electrical distribution boxes. (The shipyard was unaware of the availability of RCD’s that wouldn’t ‘trip’ all the time during welding operations).
  • The welders gloves were wet as a result of the inclement weather.

Actions taken

  • Ensure daily pre-use inspections are performed on all work equipment;
  • Ensure any defective equipment is immediately removed from site and quarantined;
  • Ensure appropriate protection devices are fitted to electrical circuits;
  • Emphasise the importance of knowing how to isolate equipment in the event of an emergency;
  • Ensure risk assessments consider the effects of inclement weather and that suitable controls are identified and implemented.

Members may wish to refer to:

Safety Event

Published: 8 April 2021
Download: IMCA SF 10/21

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