Fingertip Severed During Lifting Operation


This is a very important case study, which shows how a small mistake can chop off the fingers. During crane’s lifting operation, the kinks on the wire rope were straightened by holding the crane’s hook block, which caused fingertip to be chopped-off.

Fingertip Severed

Type Of Ship Car Carrier
Location In Port
Casualty Able Body seaman fingertip severed

Personnel Involved:

  1. Bosun
  2. Three Able Body (A.B.) seaman
  3. An Oiler
  4. Duty Officer

The Incident:

As the vessel reached the port of Singapore, provision crane was used to pick up the stores and spares from the berth.  Five of the ship’s crew were involved in this operation.

Bosun – Operating the crane,

AB 1 – Signalling to Bosun,

AB 2 – Assistance in securing/lowering of stores,

AB 3 – Assistance in securing/lowering of stores,

Oiler – Assistance in securing/lowering of stores,

Duty Officer – Overall in-charge of the operation.

A car carrier has a large freeboard in ballast condition.

The provision crane wire rope kinked as the stores were lifted from the berth.  One of the ABs attempted to get the ropes kink-free by turning the crane hook block with his hands.  As the AB reached the crane hook block, his fingers went inside the crane hook block’s inspection hole.  The AB’s left-hand fingertip severed as it was inside the inspection hole when the crane hook block was moving upwards.  The lifting operation came to a halt and the AB was rushed to the hospital for treatment.


It is to be noted that the inspection hole had a hinged plastic cover on it.  On investigation, it was found that the plastic cover was removed in the past for routine maintenance and inspection on the hook block.  The ship’s crew failed to replace the same after the maintenance and inspection work.



  1. After maintenance, the inspection hole cover was not replaced back.
  2. While the crane was in operation the kinked wire rope was attempted to be straightened by rotating the hook block by hands.
  3. The person who is operating and the person who is in charge should have warned the AB – No warning, Risk assessment & Tool Box Talk.



  1. Besides assessing the risks, the Officer in charge of the operation should warn or at least stop when he identifies such activities.
  2. Proper communication should be maintained and tool box talk should be implemented.
  3. The ship staff should replace the spares after completion of maintenance work.  Even the smallest thing like a plastic cover can cause severe injury as in the case of a AB mentioned in this study.
  4. The new recruits on board should be given the basic training (process/control/familiarization) before any job which is likely to be assigned.
  5. The duty officer/ duty engineer should guide the crew and identify potential hazards during every operation.
  6. If the wire rope kinks during crane operation, the operator should stop the operation and remove the kinks by using a rod or wooden bar.
  7. If the inspection cover is missing it should be temporarily closed with the help of cloth sealing tape.

If any such experience or ideas/suggestions – do share it with us.

Image Credits: Marine Mechanik


  1. Finger tip shearing has been common among crew, low ranking officers and engineers. In most cases the root cause may be traced to insufficient training and guidance by the team leader. It attributes a great extend for getting too many jobs completed in shortest available port stay by exhausted seafarers with insufficient rest. Ship Managers are to share the responsibility for such accidents for minimum manning along with ship owners who don’t support them with sufficient budget to man their vessels adequately. Cut throat competition in shipping will only aggravate the situation further.

  2. It’s time to design provision cranes which don’t twist when picking loads. This menace has been existing for a long time, however there’s no modification in the primitive design.


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