Real Life Incident: Innocuous Task Leads To Serious Eye Injury

An engine room crew member was assigned the task of dismantling the steering motor coupling chain. One of the steps in this job was to pull out a locking split pin using pliers. The crew member gripped the split pin with the pliers and began pulling with some force to extract it. Suddenly, the plier jaw slipped off from the split pin and, due to the force applied and the trajectory hit his right eye. The injury was serious enough to require the crew member to be disembarked ashore for professional treatment and repatriation.

real life incident eye injury
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Although the crew member had most of his personal protective equipment (PPE), he was not wearing eye protection. It was also discovered that instead of pulling on the pliers in line with the tool, he had pulled sideways so that the serrated teeth of the pliers were less effective in keeping a grip on the pin.

Lessons learned

  • No matter the task, simple or complicated, injuries can occur if you do not use tools correctly or wear appropriate PPE for the task.
  • Eye protection appears to come a poor second to the rest of the PPE wardrobe, with the result that eye injuries still occur quite frequently. Why not insist that crew always wear eye protection when working in the engine room or on deck regardless of the task?


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One Comment

  1. Very nice information to avoid mistakes in future. We learned from mistakes of others and our as well. In my 15 years of shipping career I think the most important tool to do a job safely is common sense. Unfortunately it is not available any where else, but within us.
    Lack of common sense, clear instructions from the person responsible for the job and risk assessment leads to incidents and accidents on board.

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