Hong Kong Merchant Shipping published lessons learned from an incident where a crewmember accidentally slipped onto the inclined ladder below the vertical ladder under the access hatch, resulting in his death.
A Hong Kong registered bulk carrier departed from Tauranga, New Zealand to Jiangdu, China for cargo discharging. The vessel was fully loaded with logs and a fumigation process remained in transit on board. The Bosun was assigned to top up fumigant in the cargo holds during the sea passage.
When the bosun noticed that the fumigant gas concentration indicator (dositube) was detached from the internal side of the access hatch cover of a cargo hold, he entered through the access hatch to retrieve the detached dositube inside.
Unfortunately, the Bosun accidentally slipped onto the inclined ladder below the vertical ladder under the access hatch.
Afterwards, the Bosun was rescued and taken out of the cargo hold, the Bosun was declared dead by the paramedics on their arrival on board on the same day.
The investigation revealed that the contributory factors causing the accident were: failure of the crew to follow the safety procedures of permit to work and carry out a proper risk assessment before entering cargo holds; their lack of knowledge of enclosed space entry and insufficient safety awareness; and the inadequate and lack of comprehensive training on the fumigation procedures for the crew.
In order to avoid the recurrence of similar accidents during operation in the future, all masters, officers, and crew members should:
- conduct work for fumigation strictly in accordance with the fumigation company’s instructions and the guidelines of the IMO Circular MSC.1/Circ. 1264;
- enhance training plan on enclosed space entry, in particular, a fumigated cargo hold; and
- ensure all crew members strictly follow the safety requirements when entering an enclosed space and in-transit fumigation.