Transport Malta issued an investigation report on a serious injury of a fitter while operating a lathe machine onboard the container ship MV Alula. The fitter’s clothing and gloves were caught by the high-speed rotating chuck, inflicting serious injuries.
After the lunch break, the fitter was assigned by the second engineer to repair an old shaft using the lathe machine. Considering the nature of the task, no one was assigned to assist the fitter.
Whilst working on another task, the second engineer visited the workshop and noticed that the lathe machine was in operation, with no one in attendance.
Inquiring further, he noticed the fitter lying in the workshop, and bleeding from under his head. The safety investigation confirmed that the fitter’s clothes and gloves had been caught in the rotating chuck of the lathe machine.
- The fitter’s clothing and gloves were caught by the high-speed rotating chuck, inflicting serious injuries.
- The safety investigation hypothesized that the fitter had tied the upper part of his overalls to his waist to obtain more freedom of movement while carrying out the task.
- The fitter would have either considered that the gloves were still a necessity after machining the shaft, or he might have forgotten to remove the gloves prior to cleaning it with an emery cloth.
The risk associated with the task was considered very low. Consequently, the MSIU is of the opinion that a detailed discussion on safe practices was not warranted, considering also that the fitter was experienced and certified,
…the report reads.
- The risk assessments in place were generic and did not assess the hazards imposed when using emery cloth.
- An emery cloth holding device was available onboard, but not used for this task. Considering the (small) size of the shaft, it was not excluded that the fitter may have assessed that the setting up of the holding device was unnecessary and unwarranted.
- The lathe machine was not fitted with a chuck guard.
During the safety investigation, United Arab Shipping Company Limited Dubai Branch executed the following actions:
- Information of the accident was shared immediately with its fleet;
- A follow-up Circular was promulgated amongst its fleet, detailing the accident and specifying safety measures to be taken while working on lathe machines, including, checks required prior to starting and during the work, the type of PPE to be worn (as well as not worn) and the correct manner in which the required PPE was to be worn;
- Related training was conducted onboard all vessels within the Company;
- Available PPE onboard all vessels was checked;
- Familiarization process was reviewed;
- Additional focus during audits and technical inspections was adopted as a continuous measure.
The company is recommended to:
- include in the applicable risk assessment the hazard of using emery cloth on the lathe machine.
- install a guard over the chuck of the lathe machine and instruct the operators in its use.