Accident While Washing Down Cargo Holds – Investigation Report

This incident refers to an accident where during an operation of washing down a cargo hold from inside the hold, two crew members were injured when they were thrown from the top platform of the scaffolding rigged on the inner bottom in the cargo hold. One of the crew members was slightly injured and the other lost consciousness for a relatively long period. The protracted loss of consciousness was subsequently attributed to brain injury.

2013.06.14 - Incident Information on Accident While Washing Down Cargo Holds

A major contributing factor to the accident was that the scaffolding was not properly secured to the cargo hold. The two crew members were caught unaware of the sudden pressure build-up in the hose, while turning the direction of the nozzle. When the water was turned on, the two crew members, who were both on the same edge of the scaffolding platform, were thrown from the scaffolding rig, due to the reaction force from the hose, and as a result landed on the inner bottom.

Such incidents, where a normal routine task on board a ship can quickly turn into a casualty,  highlight the following:

  • Scaffolding rigged to facilitate washing down of cargo holds must be well secured inside the hold, as reaction forces from the hose may be quite significant.
  • A risk assessment by suitably experienced personnel must always be carried out and made part of the work culture on board. Guidance given in publications such as the Code of Safe Working Practices for Merchant Seamen, should be utilised.
  • Communication should be provided between the crew on top of the scaffolding and crew outside the cargo hold.
  • A safety meeting, including assessment and identification of potential risks and hazards, must be carried out before work is commenced. All persons taking part must be made aware of the risks and actions being taken to safeguard against injury.
  • The platform of scaffolding rigged must be secured carefully to strong points in the cargo hold, to prevent shifting as well as, tipping over. Extra considerations must be given to securing if such work is carried out at sea to prevent any shifting of scaffolding due to vessel movement.
  • Safety harnesses or other restraining devices must always be used when working aloft, over 2 m height, in accordance with the code of safe working practices.
  • When working aloft, crew should pay more attention and they should be aware of any potential hazards.
  • No person should ride a mobile scaffolding tower when shifting from one place to another.
  • When using pressurised equipment, e.g. a washing hose, the required pressure should always be built up gradually. The operator of the equipment must always be in full control from start to finish.
  • Toe boards and guard rail Guardrails and toe boards are required at the outsides and ends of all working platforms from which men and materials can fall more than 2 m.
  • Height limitations.

Source: DNV

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