The Marine Safety Forum has reported an incident in which a crewman slipped and fell during lifting operations. The accident could have had serious consequences, including the seafarer being lifted from the deck or being struck by the load being lifted.
The incident occurred when a vessel was preparing for cargo transfer to an offshore installation. Two crewmen were on deck ready to hook a load onto the installation crane. A tag line was attached to the load. As the load was hooked on, one of the seafarers was seen to fall to the deck. Crane movement was stopped; the seafarer got back on his feet and was uninjured.
The Marine Safety Forum (MSF) notes that this near miss had a high potential for serious injury:
- The crane could have lifted the load and it could have collided with the seafarer when he had fallen.
- The crane could have lifted the load and the tag line could have tightened around the seafarer’s leg lifting him off the deck.
An analysis of what went wrong and what the causes were indicated that, after hooking on, the seaman had hold of the middle part of the tag line, and took a step back. He stood on the tag line, tripped and fell.
MSF notes that industry guidelines (Guidelines for Offshore Marine Operations (GOMO)) state that the use of tag lines should generally be avoided. However, it is recognised that certain conditions may require the use of them – this operation required the use of a tag line due to the relatively very light and fragile nature of the item being transferred.
The guidelines go on to state:
- All sections of the line, including slack must be kept in front of the body, between the handler and the load.
- Where two or more people are handling the same line, ALL must work on the same side of the line. Any slack must be kept in front of the group.
The MSF alert continues: “It is recognised that utilising tag lines with standard cargo units inherently puts distance between the handlers and tag line due to the dimensions involved. In this case, with a small box to be transferred, the tag line was far closer to the handlers and required further care and preparations to avoid conflict.”
Among the lessons learnt and actions taken were the following.
- The MSF noted that additional preplanning should have been conducted. This should have included identifying which side of the loads the cargo handlers were to work from and the direction in which they will move away; and running the tag line at the opposite side of the load and in the other direction.
- The risk assessment for deck cargo operations was reviewed particularly with respect to the use of tag lines. The crew were formally briefed (and a record kept thereof) on the contents of the reviewed risk assessment.
- Additional training in the use of tag lines, particularly when dealing with small or fragile loads, was carried out.
- Future operations should be more closely monitored from the bridge.