The incident

A bulk carrier was at anchor and discharging its cargo of sawn timber to barges.

During the sea passage, the deck cargo had been secured by top-over lashings, which were removed prior to commencing the discharge.

Access from the accommodation area to the forecastle could only be achieved by walking over the deck cargo.

During discharge operations, the bosun was conducting security rounds, which involved walking over the deck cargo.

The stack of deck cargo that he was standing on collapsed, and he fell with the timber into a barge.

Despite being administered first-aid, the bosun did not survive the fall.


Lessons learned

  1. Although it was a very hazardous working environment, the risks had not been properly assessed. Safe access over deck cargo using ladders and catwalks needs to be provided. Alternative methods of monitoring security, such as the use of CCTV cameras, can also be considered.
  2. Vessel crews should challenge poor stevedoring practices. During this discharge operation, the vessel’s crew had witnessed a series of poor safety practices by stevedores, including barges being secured to the cargo, cargo being dropped, stevedores not wearing PPE and cranes being used to lift personnel. When a vessel’s crew witness significant safety shortcomings of this nature, proactive engagement with the stevedoring supervisor is necessary to ensure safe working practices are in place for everyone.


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