A Fourth Engineer Suffered Burns Working Upon an Auxiliary Boiler

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The fourth engineer, who was about to complete his tenure onboard, was allotted the task to monitor the water level in the boiler.  Further, he was asked to check for any oil contamination in boiler water.  The fourth engineer was wearing a leather glove, full-sleeve boiler suit and a safety boot with a face shield.

Ship TypeContainer
Person InvolvedFourth Engineer
MachineryAuxiliary Boiler
TaskThe Boiler gauge glass was broken and the task to monitor water level was allotted to the fourth Engineer
Risk AssessmentNot Done

Machinery Situation:

The Boiler gauge glass was broken and in order to replace the same, the fourth engineer was given the task to lower the boiler water level.  Upon lowering, the boiler manhole was to be opened up for internal inspection.

The Incident:

The fourth engineer, who was about to complete his tenure onboard, was allotted the task to monitor the water level in the boiler.  Further, he was asked to check for any oil contamination in boiler water.  The fourth engineer was wearing a leather glove, full-sleeve boiler suit and a safety boot with a face shield.

boiler

As the boiler water level dropped, the fourth engineer decided to loosen up the manhole door cover in order to facilitate internal inspection.  The manhole door cover was rigged on to a chain hoist as it was too heavy for a person to lift it.  Upon loosening one of the dog clamps, the weight of the manhole door was taken up in the chain hoist.  As the door loosened, a huge gush of steam came out of the opening.  This was due to the fact that the steam line was open to the system and the vent valve on the boiler was not kept open.  This resulted in the boiler accumulating some pressure.

Once the bolts were loosened, the fourth engineer raised the cover clear of the boiler top by pulling on the chain block.  However, due to the angle of the chain block and the cover’s size and shape, he had to guide and lift it manually.  During this process, one of the securing bolts snagged on the underside of the boiler opening.  This took the engineer by surprise and he let go of the cover’s handle.  Unfortunately, the hook securing the chain block to the cover’s handle was also dislodged and the cover fell back towards the boiler opening.  As the fourth engineer tried to grab the cover, his left hand went through the boiler opening into the boiling water.  The cover also dropped into the boiler.

The fourth engineer suffered second-degree burns.  After receiving first aid treatment on board, he was shifted to a hospital ashore and was later repatriated home.

An onboard investigation into the accident discovered that no assessment or permit to work had been completed.  The investigation concluded that the water inside the boiler was still hot because the steam valves had not been isolated.

Lessons Learnt:

  1. Risks were not identified before carrying out the job.
  2. Manpower requirement was not clearly identified as this is clearly not a single man’s job.
  3. The Fourth Engineer was not experienced enough to carry out such dangerous tasks independently.
  4. No Permit-to-work system was in place.
  5. Complete failure to adhere to ISM and Safe Engineering practices.

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Source: UK MAIB.

3 COMMENTS

  1. This is definitrly not a singke mans job and it reqd a team eork to identify the tisks involved in the job.. especially 2e should have involved in this job with an assistant engineer assisting him.. keeping the vent valve closed clearly indicates the la k of awareness & knoweldge in the job they werr cartying out

  2. Its a tragic scenario and its a failure of CE rather the concerned 4th engineer who has to go through this agony. Absence of responsible & concerned officer will lead to such unwanted tragedy and keeps repeating.

    • Well said Mr. Rana. Thank you for your comments. If you have such experiences, please feel free to share with us.

Comments are closed.