Lifting operations onboard ships are critical in nature and often become subject of claims, leading to serious injuries or even fatalities of the people involved. During its Condition Survey Programme (CSP), the Shipowners Club noted an increased number of deficiencies related to the standard of lifting equipment onboard, particularly in relation to inadequate testing methods and lack of certification.
Periodic testing of lifting equipment is essential in order to ensure that the planned load can be safely lifted and sustained throughout the operation, the Club stresses.
Whilst the frequency of load testing and certification would be overseen by the Flag State Administration’s regulations, it is recommended that the onboard maintenance should include regular (at least annually) examinations by a ‘Competent Person’.
The Code of Safe Working Practices for Merchant Seafarers defines a competent person as someone who has sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities that allow them to carry out the work in hand effectively and safely. The level of competence required will depend on the complexity of the situation and the particular work involved.
The scope of these annual examinations should ideally also include looking out for material defects or wear and tear which could affect the Safe Working Load (SWL) and safe performance of the equipment.
On some occasions, these testing services are outsourced to private contractors by the Flag Administration. Due care must be taken by Members to ensure that the load applied for the testing is commensurate with the SWL for which the lifting gear is designed and certified to carry.
The Club would like to take this opportunity to remind Members to pay particular attention to the maintenance, periodic inspection and testing procedures for the lifting equipment on board their vessels. A proper risk assessment of the planned operation including tool box meetings and appropriate training of the personnel involved should also be incorporated into their on board management systems.