In a new edition of feedback, CHIRP Maritime contains several reports that involve loss of life to highlight never to relax our vigilance when onboard. One case refers to a crew member’s fatality by drowning while working on top of logs to carry out lashings to highlight that this task is dangerous and requires experience and training.
bulk carrier was loading a timber deck cargo at anchor. While lashing down the timber, an Ordinary Seaman (OS) fell overboard into the sea. Another crew member jumped in to search for them but was unsuccessful, and despite an extensive search over several days, the victim was never found. What caused the OS to fall into the water could not be determined as there were no witnesses.
The OS was inexperienced yet had not been trained or briefed on the risks of working on timber. He wore coveralls, gloves, a safety helmet, and studded overshoes. Still, the ship’s SMS manual did not mention the rigging of safety lines or wearing safety harnesses when working on top of the timber, nor did it require the crew to wear lifejackets or buoyancy aids.
This report raises several organisational safety concerns. There was nothing in the company SMS about working atheight on logs, nor any guidance on the rigging of safety lines or the wearing of safety harnesses. It would be impractical to rig a lifeline over the timber because it would interfere with the timber being loaded or unloaded by crane, but alternatives should have been considered. On board, the operational leadership knew of his inexperience, but did not provide a safety briefing or assign the person a ‘buddy’ or supervisor to ensure his and others’ safety.
Was safety compromised because of poor safety culture on board, or because the operational programme set by the company could not be achieved without reducing safety?
In a similar previous report, CHIRP referenced the IMO’s Timber Deck Cargo Code (the TDC Code), and the reader’s attention is drawn to section A2.22, which states that
While working on the cargo, there should be provisions to attach a safety harness. (TDC Code)
Factors relating to this report
Capability – This job was beyond the capability of the crew member because he had no experience performing this work. Does your company consider the experience required for log carriers; are the crews staggered so that experience can be passed down? Does your company provide practical training courses for the officers and crew to understand the hazards of carrying timber deck cargo?
Situational Awareness – Being alert to your position on the logs is crucial to maintaining good situational awareness. A constant check is required. This can be impaired if you are tired or fatigued.
Teamwork – A vital component for a successful lashing operation. The team working on the logs should be working as a cohesive unit and looking out for each other.
Culture – Does your SMS have information and procedures for a bulk carrier carrying logs? Does the company provide sufficient details for carrying logs, especially if this is not a regular cargo? Does the marine manager actively engage with the master to advise on the safety requirements for log carriage?