Recurring operations, even the most mundane, can still pose a serious risk. In the latest Mars reports, an example is given of an accident, in which the risks of a "normal" loading operation were not identified resulting in the death of a crew member.

All operations should be carefully analysed for potential hazards and the associated risks brought to ALARP levels (As Low As Reasonably Possible). In addition, some risks for falling overboard can be "hidden in plain sight". To illustrate these dangers, the latest Mars reports feature an incident with the Dutch ship Azoresborg, which occurred in February 2013 in Bilbao, Spain:

In the early morning a general cargo vessel came starboard side to the berth to load steel and project cargo. To prepare the holds for loading, the crew needed to remove the stored pontoons and place supports so that the tweendecks could be positioned inside the hold later on. The supervising officer stood on a hatch coaming ladder to guide the operation using hand signals and portable VHF.

As the pontoon was positioned above the hatch coaming, the supervising officer instructed the crane operator to swing the pontoon to the left and then slowly lower it. A short time later, the seaman near the gangway noticed someone had fallen overboard amidships, between the quay and the vessel. 

The victim was placed onto a stretcher and he was lifted out of the water by the shore crane, but was later pronounced dead. The autopsy found that he had died as a result of internal bleeding.

Investigation Findings

The Dutch Safety Board published an investigation report in May 2014. The Board concluded that the mate was in an unsafe position, which the crew failed to identify as unsafe. A safety briefing was not conducted beforehand. Due to the lack of an effective provision against falling overboard, the crew member was able to fall over the railing into the water. In addition, the Mars Report points out there should always be a direct and unobstructed view between the crane operator and the person controlling the lift.

Mars Reports

This is one of the May Mars Reports, originally published as Mars 201932, that are part of Report Number 319. A selection of this Report has also been published in SWZ|Maritime’s June issue.

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