Shortcut Led Amputated Finger

Credit: Diana Polekhina/Unspalsh


A crew member on a large cargo vessel had to pass through an A60 fire-rated hydraulically operated sliding door to access an adjoining machinery space. The door was fitted with a lever handle on either side that, when operated, initiated the door opening sequence. 

The crew member used their right hand to operate the lever handle and the door began to open to the right. As it reached the halfway position, the open warning alarm sounded as expected. The crew member walked through the doorway and placed their left hand on the lever handle on the other side, pushing it down once more to continue the operation. 

The door opened fully, while the crew member kept their hand on the handle. As the door retracted fully, the crew member’s left hand became trapped between the 

handle and the doorframe, resulting in the little finger suffering amputation of the fingertip and nail above the first knuckle. It could not be reattached. 


The door was subsequently inspected for technical, hydraulic and electrical defects and found to be in good working order.

Lesson Learnt

  • Qualified → Automatic or powered doors are potentially very dangerous. Hydraulic and electric power-operated systems are unforgiving in their closing force and should be treated respectfully. The crew must be provided with suitable training on both the safe use of these doors and the dangers of their unsafe operation.
  • Procedure → If a powered door is transited frequently, it is easy to forget the dangers and take shortcuts such as walking through the door before it has fully opened. Previous accidents have sadly resulted in more serious injuries than those suffered in this case, and sometimes death.
  • Aware → Entrapment is a hazard often associated with moving machinery and wariness is the watchword. There should have been no need for the crew member’s hand to remain on the door’s operating lever and this action indicates insufficient knowledge of the system; however, if the operator was attempting to take a shortcut, then a greater understanding of the system would have been required to understand the dangers of doing so. Lack of understanding of how a system will work when shortcuts are taken, and the potential consequences, are a good enough reason not to do it.

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