Injured in Bad Weather

31st January 2009

Injured in Bad Weather

Initial Report

Report Summary:

A vessel had arrived off port in the morning and anchored. The next morning, the weather had worsened, with wind force 8, and the anchor was dragging. The Chief Officer went forward to weigh anchor. However, the locking pin for the anchor cable stopper bar was found to be stuck and, as a result, the anchor cable could not be heaved up.

The Chief Engineer went to the forecastle. While he was there, a sudden wave hit the area. He held onto a lashing wire but the force of the wave was so strong that his lower part was lifted by the water and hit against the anchor roller foundation. He suffered multiple fractures of the hip region.

Root Causes:

There was no indication of any previous problem with the locking pin. Apparently the pin bent as a result of the severe jerks and load that came on the anchor cable stopper during the bad weather. An earlier response to the worsening weather would have avoided this and the need for people to go forward in such conditions.

Preventive action:

  • Maintain windlass and machinery in efficient condition so that people are not exposed unnecessarily, particularly in unfavourable weather conditions.
  • Weather forecasts to be closely monitored.
  • Vessel to be moved to safe position before weather worsens.
  • If it is necessary for people to go forward, the vessel should be turned insofar as possible to provide some shelter for them. Proper personal protective equipment, including harnesses, should be worn.
  • Carry out a risk assessment before working on deck in bad weather.

CHIRP Comment:

We thank the company for sharing this report.  The risk to people working on deck in bad weather has been highlighted by a number of fatal accidents investigated by the MAIB.  We reinforce the company’s observation that early action is needed prior to the onset of heavy weather so that, if possible, personnel do not need to go on deck in adverse conditions.  If, however, that does become necessary, it is essential to review the specific hazards to personnel  and what preventive action will be carried out to mitigate the risks.  Assessing the risks, both formally and dynamically is a fundamental tool of safety management.

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