Mechanic’s Loose Sleeve Caught in the Rotating Chuck


Transport Malta has issued an investigation report regarding an accident that happened to one of the engine ratings on onboard the Skysea Golden Era while in port of Baoshan, Shanghai.

The incident

Skysea Golden Era sailed from Fukuoko, Japan on 08 April 2016. She was on a cruise to China with 1867 passengers on board. The vessel arrived in Baoshan, Shanghai.

The lathe inside the workshop

One of the engine ratings, a 41 years old Philippine national, who was engaged as mechanic, reported for his usual duty. He held a diploma in mechanical engineering and technical training in a shorebased engineering workshop.

The mechanic had previously served as a fitter, a turner, and engine mechanic on passenger ships. He had joined Skysea Golden Era on 14 January 2016. The mechanic was tasked to clean a pump shaft, using a piece of emery cloth. To facilitate the work, the shaft was secured to the chuck of the vessel’s lathe, and set to rotate at 500 rpm.

The lathe was located in the engine-room’s workshop, on starboard side, aft of the main engine.

At about 1128, the engine ratings, (two engine ratings were also on duty at the time of the accident) found the mechanic arched over the lathe’s rotating chuck. They quickly activated the emergency stop button on the lathe and summoned the ship’s medical emergency team.

The injured crew was medically examined. An X-ray and CT scan, however, revealed no fractures or dislocation of the left arm. The laceration and open wounds were cleaned and bandaged. Following several days of treatment, he was signed off the ship and repatriated home.


The chief engineer reported that the area around the lathe was clean, free of loose material and the platform surface was non slippery. The artificial lighting was bright enough and the lathe was well maintained and kept in good condition. The safety precautions outlined in the ‘Hazards Work Detail’ document were observed except for the chuck guard which had never been fitted on the lathe.

Rotating chuck showing overall sleeve & emery cloth entangled on the spindle

Although no engine ratings witnessed the accident, it was probable that either the emery cloth and/or the loose sleeve of the mechanic’s overalls were caught in the rotating chuck. The mechanic was then pulled over and held down over the rotating chuck, outside the reach of the emergency stop button.

In addition to the lack of a physical barrier around the chuck, the lathe had another design problem with the position of the emergency button, which was not within reach of the (trapped and injured) operator.

Actions Taken

During the course of the safety investigation, the Company has placed an order to fit a safety guard on the lathe’s chuck. Moreover, the operating procedures were amended and the lathe operation and work practices are now included as part of the on board periodical internal safety audit.


Celebrity Cruises Inc. has been recommended to consider fitting an emergency stop button or pedal in a position that can be reached by lathe operators from all positions.

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Source: Transport Malta