Lessons Learnt: Fingers Lost in Unexpected Hatch Closure

Credits: Shutterstock

A recent IMCA Safety Flash focuses on an incident in which a crew person was checking the water tightness of the engine room’s emergency hatch cover, to provide lessons learned.

The incident

Safety lock pins, used to prevent the hatch cover from closing, were missing. To hold the hatch cover from closing, the crew improvised using a nearby chain which he hooked to a hose support. However, the improvised arrangement failed, and the hatch cover closed unexpectedly. The injured person had his left hand in the mouth of the hatch, and the hatch cover landed on his fingers. The tips of his two longest fingers were very badly injured and had to be amputated.

This incident contains a link to a graphic photograph of the injuries sustained.

Credit: IMCA

What went wrong

  • Poor spatial awareness: the injured person was not aware of the pinch point; therefore, he didn’t stop the job when he saw that there were no safety lock pins on the hatch.
  • The injured person improvised an inadequate and inappropriate method of securing the hatch cover.
  • The toolbox talk did not highlight potential hazards such as line of fire, pinch point, etc. and its mitigation.

What was the cause

IMCA’s members note the cause as being an inadequate planned maintenance system which did not highlight the lack of safety-critical locking pins.

Lessons learned

  • Review and modify existing planned maintenance system onboard to ensure it is properly implemented and is not just a “checklist tick”.
  • Reiterate importance of thorough toolbox talks before the job – take the time to think things through.
  • Don’t just improvise safety equipment – stop the job, think it through, get it right.
  • Are there areas in your work where you might be tempted to “just do it anyway?” without the right safety equipment?

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Source: IMCA