A supervisor who is taking part in the work itself is less likely to be able to control the work and assess the risks. The Nautical Insititute gives this warning in its latest Mars Report in which four crew members suffered burns during boiler maintenance.

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:

Routine maintenance on a fuel oil pump for the auxiliary boiler was scheduled while a vessel was at anchor. A toolbox meeting was held to discuss the work and the risks and the appropriate permits to work were checked, including cold work and pressure pipeline work permits. The second engineer was to be the work supervisor.

The maintenance work began after lunch. The second engineer was dismantling the pump’s filter cover, while also acting as the work supervisor. The pump had been isolated by closing the inlet and outlet valves, but the vent cock fitted on the system had not been opened, so the system was still under pressure.As the pump’s filter cover came loose, hot fuel and gases under pressure escaped from the pump.

Also read: Crew member without PPE suffers hot sludge burns

The second engineer and three other engine crew who were involved with the work suffered burns on their faces, necks and hands from the hot oil, even though they were wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), in this case safety hats, gloves and eye protection. After the accident, the outlet and inlet valves to the pump were checked and found to be closing efficiently. There were no signs of leakages into the system.

The four injured crew were given first aid on the vessel, and two of them were subsequently transferred to the local hospital for further treatment and examination. After eleven days of hospitalisation and medical treatment both crew were fit to travel and were safely repatriated.

Also read: Junior engineer suffers severe burns in boiler accident

Advice from The Nautical Institute

  • Checking the boxes of a “permit to work” form is not going to protect you from the known hazards. Working according to the precautions on the permit will protect you.
  • A supervisor who is taking part in the work itself (instead of acting only as a supervisor) is less likely to be able to control the work and assess the risks.

Also read: No lockout/tagout results in burns for engine room crew member

Mars Reports

This accident was covered in the Mars Reports, originally published as Mars 202316, that are part of Report Number 366. A selection of this Mars Report was also published in SWZ|Maritime’s May 2023 issue. The Nautical Institute compiles these reports to help prevent maritime accidents. That is why they are also published (in full) 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.