The Incident

A tanker was lying at the port anchorage waiting to berth. At the same time, an engine room fitter was instructed to fabricate a steel locking pin.

On the first step, the fitter put on his personal protective equipment, including a full face fiser. He began constructions on the locking pin in the workshop using an electric angle grinder. The electric grinder was fitted with a 180mm diameter disk but several minutes into the job he changed to using a pneumatic grinder, designed for a maximum disk size of 100mm.

Yet, as the fitter believed that a larger disk was still needed for the job, he removed the safety guard to make room for a larger 160mm disk. Consequently, he continued his task now using an unguarded grinder.

Suddenly, without warning, the disk shattered and a fragment of it flew towards the man and penetrated his face shield seriously injuring his right eye.

Other crewmembers rushed in to provide him first aid and arrangements were made to transfer the injured crew onshore for medical treatment.

Lessons Learned

The Club estimates that the fitter switched to using the electric grinder because of the higher power provided by a pneumatic grinder.

Installing, cutting and grinding disks larger than the size for which the power tool is designed or with a lower maximum rated speed and a maximum speed of the tool is a dangerous practice and increases the risk of failure.

Also, the removal of safety guards on tools exposes the operator and others to serious injury from broken parts of disks flying as well as to the additional risk of body parts making contact to high speed rotating disk.

Recommendations

  1. Ship managers should enforce a zero-tolerance policy to the misuse and abuse of power tools including the removal of safety guards.
  2. Manufacturer’s instructions for the safe use of power tools must be readily available and strictly observed.
  3. Inspection and maintenance of power tools to be included in the Planned Maintenance System.
  4. Crew should receive training and appropriate supervision for the correct use of power tools, and be aware of the consequences of misusing them.

Angle grinders in the wrong hands are lethal weapons

... the UK Club highlights.