The Britannia P&I Club informs of an incident, where the cargo ship ”Boston Trader” was moored in the Port of Oran in Algeria, when a seafarer was hit on the foot by a falling lashing bar. As a result, a toe of the crewman had to be amputated.
he Boston Trader had been moored alongside the pier since 11 March 2019 and cargo operations were in progress. During the morning of 14 March 2019 the third officer (3/O), bosun (BSN) and two able bodied seamen (A/Bs) had been on watch. The bosun was keeping a watch on the ship’s gangway, while one AB (AB1) was securing the containers loaded on deck and another (AB2) was on the pier checking and sealing containers about to be loaded.
The containers loaded on deck were secured in accordance with the Cargo Securing Manual, which required the containers stowed on the hatch cover of No. 2 cargo hold (Bay 06), in the vicinity of where the accident occurred, to be secured.
While the containers were being loaded, AB1 was positioned on the cross-deck between Bay 06 and Bay 12. The containers loaded on the third tier of the outboard ends had to be secured using a long lashing bar and tightened with a turnbuckle connected to it. The height of the long lashing bar was 5.07m and it was said to weigh more than 20kg.
The person securing the containers would usually have to step onto the hatch cover, using it as a pedestal, to hook the lashing bar into the corner fitting of a container. Once hooked, the lashing bar would have to be brought diagonally across to be connected to the turnbuckle, which would then be screwed down to tighten the securing arrangement.
A 40ft container was loaded in Bay 06 on the third tier, towards the outboard end of the starboard side of the ship. In order to secure it, AB1 stepped onto the hatch cover of cargo hold No. 2 and hooked up a long lashing bar into the corner fitting of the container. While holding the hooked-up lashing bar with one hand, he then stepped down from the hatch cover onto the cross deck in order to lift the turnbuckle with the other hand.
At this point the lashing bar slipped out from the container socket and fell vertically down onto his right foot. The bottom end of the lashing bar cut through the safety footwear and injured his foot.
The chief officer (C/O), along with the BSN, arrived at the location and carried AB1 into the accommodation. The master informed the local agent of the accident and requested for emergency medical assistance, while the crew tried to stop the bleeding.
The agent, along with the local port authorities and a medical team, arrived on board. The medical team immediately transferred AB1 to a hospital ashore where he underwent surgery with one toe being amputated.
The following lessons learned have been identified, which are based on the information available in the investigation report:
- The risk assessment available for the securing of containers required certain risk control measures to be put in place in order to minimise the associated risks. The investigation was of the view that some of these measures were not actually in place at the time of the incident.
- The injured seafarer may have either worn his safety footwear improperly, or his foot slipped out at the time of the incident. Although he was wearing the right PPE and the correct size, the effectiveness of the safety shoes could have been compromised.
- Although the crew members believed that the securing of loaded containers could be carried out by only one person, taking into account the design of the lashing bar and the securing arrangements, the investigation found that at least two persons were required to secure the containers: one to hold the hooked up lashing bar and the other to connect it to the turnbuckle lying flat on the hatch cover.
- The sockets of corner fittings into which lashing bars are hooked are oval in shape. A lashing bar, such as the one being used by the injured seafarer, was designed to slip easily into the socket of the container and to lock into the socket, once the bar is rotated diagonally across and connected to the turnbuckle. In view of this design, if the lashing bar is left suspended vertically, it may slip out from the socket of the corner fitting, especially if the lashing bar is not hooked correctly.
- There were no records of any of the crew members being familiarised with the container securing procedures and arrangements of the ship. However, the injured seafarer had joined the ship three months prior to the incident and the ship regularly called at the port of Oran, where the securing of containers was always carried out by the crew members.