While berthing a ship at night, a second officer fell into a cargo hold and lost his life due to serious injuries. The accident could have been easily avoided if some simple safety precautions would have been taken.
After taking in ballast and weighing anchor at about 1 am, the vessel proceeded to berth. It was the practice to remove the hatch covers before berthing when loading or unloading cargo at this port. This had been done prior to heaving anchor.
As the vessel made for the berth the second officer reported to the Master that he would stand by at the aft mooring station. Two crew, both on the main deck, saw the second officer pass in front of them and enter the pump room just aft of No. 2 cargo hold.
Soon afterward they heard a scream and they raised the alarm. After the inside of No. 2 cargo hold was lit, the second officer was found lying and bleeding at the starboard aft end of the hold.
He appeared to have fallen over the one metre high hatch coaming to the bottom of the empty hold, 8.5 metres below. The victim was later confirmed dead at the hospital due to a comminuted fracture of the skull among other injuries.
The official report cites the following factors that could have helped prevent this accident:
* Set up a safety barrier such as a fall protection fence while hatch covers are removed.
* Ensure that the crew move safely on upper deck passageways.
* Give the crew a warning when hatch covers are removed before berthing.
* Light up the cargo holds, to the extent that doing so will not interfere with safe navigation while sailing at night with hatch covers removed.
Reference & Image Credits: nautinst