Avoidable Accidents

No system is perfect and risk is everywhere, probably nowhere more so than in shipping, with no guarantees that there will never be an accident, nor that a particular accident will never repeat itself.

2015.07.06 - Avoidable Accidents

But If risk assessments are carried out properly, with the idea of avoiding accidents, it will be far less likely that we have to read about similar accidents repeatedly. And when an accident does happen, the consequences should be less severe because people should be ready for it.

Additionally, proper investigation into the root causes of accidents and near-misses will assist in the prevention of accidents or the accident happening again. An investigation that merely points out the human error will not do that.

Sadly there are still reports of accidents that could have been prevented as the hazards people faced could have been identified or were already known.

Enclosed spaces accidents still have a prominent place in these reports. According to the UK MAIB, The Marine Accident Investigators’ International Forum (MAIIF) figures showed 101 enclosed space accidents between 1998 and 2009, resulting in 93 deaths and 96 injuries. Since 2009 the MAIB has been aware of a further 12 accidents involving enclosed spaces, although the MAIB considers that these reported incidents may be only 10% of the total actual number. Sources from Mines Rescue Marine indicate there were reports of nine seafarer casualties in the year 2012/2013 alone.

Statistics show that more seafarers are killed or injured in enclosed spaces than in any other onboard work activity. What all these accidents have in common is that a properly conducted risk assessment would have made them less likely.

There is one example in particular that we would like to share with you. In November 2007 three seafarers died on board the Viking Islay emergency response and rescue vessel after entering its chain locker.

  • The first seafarer went in to secure a rattling anchor chain so the crew’s sleep would not be disturbed. He collapsed.
  • The second, in attempting rescue, entered the space as well and he too collapsed.
  • The third, as part of the emergency response that followed, wanted to enter the space with a BA Set, however, it did not fit through the manhole.
  • The BA Set was then replaced with an EEBD set which became dislodged during the rescue effort inside the chain locker. This person then also collapsed…

This article was initially posted in LR Blogs & Opinions website and is reproduced here with the author’s kind permission.


Author - Thomas Zeferer, LR Thomas Zeferer (Twitter, LinkedIn), Senior Marine Training Specialist at Lloyd’s Register.

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