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Worker sustained severe facial injuries during vessel maintenance

IMCA has received a report on an accident wherein a worker on a pipelay vessel sustained serious injuries to his face. Whilst the vessel was alongside, ‘routine’ inspection and maintenance work was being carried out on sheaves, bearings and clamps on a J-lay tower. The main pin and sheaves had been dismantled successfully. Later, during re-installation, the main pin was inserted by hand, halfway inside its path, in order to facilitate its final positioning. It was decided to use a hydraulic jack to push the pin in further. To this end, an additional pipe was introduced to the job. This pipe was held by hand and the hydraulic jack positioned at the other end of it. The jack was then put under pressure to start pushing the pin into its final position. Whilst under pressure, the pipe slipped out from under the jack and hit a worker in the face.

Appropriate first aid was applied. The casualty was then transferred to hospital where severe facial injuries were diagnosed.

The company’s investigation of the accident revealed the following:

  • A job safety analysis (JSA) was used that had been developed for a similar operation carried out for work on another piece of equipment. However, the additional tools and equipment being used were not mentioned on this JSA;
  • This work had not been documented at a safety briefing held earlier that day;
  • The ‘tool used for the job’, i.e. the pipe, was not of a manufactured design and hence was not fit for purpose;
  • the supervisor/workgroup leader was unable to offer continual support/supervision due to heavy work load and could only visit the work site periodically.

The company has made a number of modifications to its safety management system to prevent recurrence of this kind of accident, and observed the following lessons learnt:

  • Existing and/or generic job safety analyses should be rigorously examined when being reviewed in order to take specific work environment conditions into account;
  • Permit to work requirements need to be applied at all times;
  • Pre-job safety briefings are essential and should cover all planned and possible or likely work;
  • Personnel need to be clear that in case of doubt, they should avoid shortcuts and ask their supervisor.

Safety Event

Published: 27 February 2006
Download: IMCA SF 02/06

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