Work Planning and Risk Assessment – Electrical

Work Planning and Risk Assessment – Electrical

Report Text:

I have experience to be “electrocuted/ electric shock”; this must be reported as a “near-miss report”.

I am a fitter/welder onboard a ship of non-UK registry trading between USA, Canada then back to Asian countries like South Korea, Hong Kong, Shanghai, China, Taiwan and Japan.  Since (2) days after departing port of Japan to USA at around 1500 H, working with 3rd Engineer and a Wiper, with the instruction from the 2nd Engineer, we took out a sea water pipe (holed) of emergency generator pump from inside the bow thruster room.  I repaired/welded the holed sea water pipe.  When we are about to put back the pipe in its original position, a big splash of water coming out and we are all wet.  I immediately grab the girder with electric extension cords in it and that’s the time I have been electrocuted/electric shock.

We found out that one of the engineers in the engine room runs the Fire and GS [General Service] pump to clean with water the soot collecting tank.  There have been no warning signs or checklist.

There have been no immediate actions from my companions at work and in engine room upon knowing what happened to me.  Until for a few minutes that I called up the Chief Engineer and inside my cabin the 2nd Officer gave me a medicine of “Magnesium Hydroxide Mixture BP”, 2-3 tablespoon per day.

I have told my Chief Engineer of seeing a doctor upon arrival in USA because of hands, feet, armpit, neck muscle pains and now my fingers are numb, but still trying to work out to exercise the muscles.

One day before arrival USA, it seems that my superior officer, especially the Captain, denied me of seeing a doctor.  From they are not aware of the non-conformity, no hotwork permit on checklist and not reporting to proper authorities the near-miss report.

CHIRP Comment:

There are lessons to be learned from this incident.  Whilst it has not been possible to look into the specifics of this case, where there appear to be residual symptoms the Ship Captain’s Medical Guide should be consulted, shore advice obtained, if appropriate, with referral to a doctor at the next port, if necessary.

The report raises serious issues with respect to the condition of the vessel and the work planning and risk assessment processes employed.  The Board wishes to draw attention to a number of areas of concern:

  • If the emergency generator could not be operated because of the holed sea-water pipe reports should have been made to Flag, Class and Company and Port State should have been notified.
  • A risk assessment should have been undertaken prior to work commencing and the necessary permits and notices, including power isolation, should have been issued.
  • Wiring runs and temporary cables/extension leads should be properly maintained and checked. Even with the GS pump running the individual should not have received a shock.

The UK Code of Safe Working Practices for Merchant Seamen contains a good deal of useful advice and can be downloaded from