Fingers Crushed During Manual Handling!


A seaman suffered a serious finger injury during maintenance work.


A seaman was working on deck with the Bosun. He worked on colour-code painting of the shackles and moving the shackles on to the rack after the job had been completed. They agreed to lift and replace the heavier shackles together, lowering them into position before finally dropping them the last short distance – each person letting go “on the count of three”.


Showing shackles, gloves and injured finger.

They lifted a large shackle, weighing 44kg, into position and the Bosun begun the count – on reaching 3, he let go but the injured person did not, causing his fingertip to become crushed between the dropped shackle and another shackle already on the rack below.

He received first aid treatment on-board, but after examination by the ship’s medical officer, he was sent ashore for further medical treatment.

Points of discussion:

  • The predefined working procedure had some major flaws.
  • Additional, mechanical control measures – chain blocks, strops. – for handling heavier shackles were not used.
  • The workmen did not exercise the STOP WORK POLICY.
  • Hazardous work was carried out in an unplanned manner, without assessing the easier and safer ways to complete the job.


Corrective action: Use of proper lifting equipment and strops for all future manual handling exercises involving heavy loads.

Positives to be noted from the incident:   

  • The injured person received immediate first aid on-board and was then sent ashore to hospital for medical treatment;
  • An on-board “Time Out for Safety” was held to discuss the incident the failing points, and the corrective action,
  • The crew implemented corrective and preventative measures.
  • Changes were made to the safety management system documentation to enhance coverage of manual handling and pinch points.


Corrective action: Rearranging the shackle racks, to place heavier shackles at the bottom.

Lesson learnt:

  • Toolbox talks must be interactive.  They are not one-way conversations, but an opportunity for ALL team members to speak up and ask questions, discuss the task, ensure all control measures are in place and that everyone is clear on their duties and responsibilities during the job;
  • Ensure all Control of Work requirements are in place – before starting the job,
  • Do not use unplanned work practices – exercise the STOP WORK POLICY always step back and reassess the task to find a safer, easier alternative.

Source: IMCA


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