Hong Kong authorities have issued an investigation report following a fatal accident that happened on board a bulk carrier, when it was en route to Port Hedland, Australia to load a cargo of salt in bulk.
During the voyage, the crew of the vessel was engaged with the main deck cleaning work and the cargo hold lime-coating work, while the C/O was co-ordinating the lime-coating operation on the main deck. When the C/O placed his body underneath the partially opened folding type hatch cover to check the condition of the cargo hold and take photos, the hydraulic oil hose of the hatch cover operating system ruptured, resulting in the sudden closure of the hydraulic operated hatch cover. The C/O was crushed to death by the hatch cover on the spot.
The investigation revealed that the main contributory factors to the accident were:
– A lack of safety awareness by the C/O on operating the hatch cover, and he did not hold a valid permit to work aloft as required; the crew failed to carry out maintenance of the hydraulic operating system in compliance with the requirements of the shipboard manual, namely “Operating and Maintenance Manual for the Hydraulic Operated Folding Hatch Cover” (the Manual);
– The shipboard Safety Management System (SMS) failed to identify the hydraulic system as an item that required maintenance in order to comply with the requirements of the Manual;
– The crew failed to follow the requirements of “Code of Safe Working Practices for Merchant Seafarers” (the Code) and the Manual when operating the hatch cover.
In order to avoid a recurrence of similar accidents during operation of hacth covers in the future, the ship management company, all masters, officers, and crew members should note the following items:
– To enhance safety awareness and training onboard in operating the hatch cover including effective risk assessment, and the requirement for a valid permit to work aloft;
– To strictly follow the requirements of the manual to carry out maintenance of the hydraulic operating system of the hatch cover;
– To strictly follow the requirements of the Code and the shipboard hydraulic operated folding hatch cover operating manual to operate the hatch cover;
– To consider revising the shipboard SMS to ensure the hydraulic operating system of the hatch cover is included in the shipboard maintenance manual. Besides, to conduct an internal audit on the vessel to ensure that the crew strictly follow the requirements of the shipboard maintenance manual when carrying out the aforementioned system maintenance onboard.