The incident

On 21 March 2019, Vermont Trader was lying at anchor at the Southeast Lamma anchorage, in Hong Kong.

The second engineer, fourth engineer and an able seafarer (AB) set out to open the engine room’s hatchway.

The second engineer positioned himself beside the counterweight.

As both the fourth engineer and the able seafarer lifted the engine room hatchway cover, the second engineer, placed his body weight onto the counterweight to assist in the opening of the engine-room hatchway.

During this operation, the second engineer’s left leg slipped and became trapped between the hatchway coaming and the counterweight, resulting in a fractured shinbone.

He was subsequently evacuated by helicopter and transferred to the nearest hospital, for treatment.


  1. The prevailing weather conditions were not contributory to this accident;
  2. It is highly likely that the second engineer lost his balance once the hatchway cover started swinging at full measure;
  3. His safety shoes had adequate soles, although the curvature of the counterweight reduced the surface area whereby friction could have been applied – thus increasing the chance of slipping;
  4. Accessing the handrails of the hatchway cover through the safety ropes and stanchions makes it difficult for the crew to open it without interruption;
  5. The process of opening the engine room hatch cover by one person alone seems impracticable;
  6. The condition of the engine-room hatch cover was not considered to have attributed in this accident.


Actions taken

During the course of the safety investigation, the Company had discussed the occurrence with the shipboard management team, highlighting the need to operate equipment correctly.

Furthermore, during the HSEE meeting, an exercise was intended to be carried out where possible additional training requirements related to the correct use of equipment were to be identified.

The training needs would then be forwarded to the vessel’s Master and Safety Officer for follow up.



Transport Malta advised Columbia Shipmanagement to:

  • share this safety investigation report with its fleet to highlight the hazards of unsafe practises with other vessels;
  • reassess the opening procedure of the engine-room hatchway and consider other means to facilitate its opening;
  • install symbolic barriers visible from the engine-room hatchway’s location, to warn crew of the improper opening procedure.

Explore more herebelow:

Transport Malta report