Accident: Unskilled Crew Wrongly Deploys The Fumigant


A recent Asset Publishing news article highlights a nerve-racking accident.

Nerve damage, sickness and disorientation

A stevedore suffered nerve damage, sickness and disorientation after handling cans of
fumigant while unloading sweet potato pellets from a general cargo vessel.

The fumigant was later identified as aluminium phosphide. It had been placed among the bags of cargo by the vessel’s crew during loading to control insect infestation. The fumigant had not been deployed by specialist fumigators due to COVID-19 access restrictions that were in force at the loading port.

The untrained crew

The untrained crew incorrectly deployed the fumigant, which did not fully volatilise or
disperse during the 5-month voyage to the cargo’s discharge port and so presented both a fire hazard and poisoning risk. The crew did not record the use of fumigant on board and
the discharge port was unaware of its presence among the cargo.

The ship’s cargo holds were tested for oxygen levels, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulphide and lower explosive limit before the stevedores discharged the cargo. When the stevedores started working in the holds they soon began to find the cans of fumigant among the bags of sweet potato pellets (see figure).

Cans were marked with hazard symbols

The cans were marked with hazard symbols and the stevedores showed them to their supervisor; however, the cargo work was not suspended for several hours, by which time some of the stevedores had been in contact with the aluminium phosphide.

The next morning one of the stevedores became unwell and required hospital treatment for sickness, disorientation and nerve damage to his hand. Several hundred cans of fumigant were later removed from the cargo vessel’s holds by a specialist contractor. It took several months for the injured stevedore to recover and be fit
enough to return to work.


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Source: Assets Publishing


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