Sometimes, safety equipment itself can be a hazard, argues The Nautical Institute after a crew member suffered an injury on board a cargo vessel. In this case, open half-links were used to support the safety chain on the stanchions, but these became a snag hazard.

The Nautical Institute gathers reports of maritime accidents and near-misses. It then publishes these so-called Mars Reports (anonymously) to prevent other accidents from happening. A summary of this incident:

On a tanker, two deck crew were given the job of re-adjusting the cargo hose. One crew was operating the hose handling crane while the other, standing on the covered cargo manifold drip tray, was guiding the suspended hose. A safety chain had been removed in order to allow the cargo hose and supports to pass through.

While adjusting the suspended cargo hose, the belt sling shifted and the crewmember tried to hold the belt in place. He was standing near the edge of the cargo manifold drip tray, and his actions caused him to lose balance. The safety chain was not in place, so to avoid falling he tried to hold on to the closest stanchion and then leaped down to the main deck about 1.2 metres below.

In doing so, his right-hand middle finger got stuck in the open half link that served as a support for the safety chain. He suffered a deep cut and was given first aid and sent for shore medical assistance. The victim was repatriated for further treatment as per shore medical advice.

Advice from The Nautical Institute

  • Had the victim been wearing safety gloves at the time the injury could have been avoided or much reduced.
  • Closed loops with shackle connections would be a safer, non-snagging option.
  • Do a safety audit around your ship today. Are there any hazards ‘built-in’ to your safety gear?

Mars Reports

This accident was covered in the Mars Reports, originally published as Mars 202066, that are part of Report Number 338. A selection of this Report has also been published in SWZ|Maritime’s January 2021 issue. The Nautical Institute compiles these reports to help prevent maritime accidents. That is why they are also published on SWZ|Maritime’s website.

More reports are needed to keep the scheme interesting and informative. All reports are read only by the Mars coordinator and are treated in the strictest confidence. To submit a report, please use the Mars report form.