A bulk carrier was at berth in preparation for drydocking. During the daily safety meeting the superintendent informed everyone that the ship’s bucket grabs were to be taken ashore. The grabs weigh 10 tonnes each and are more than 4 metres high. A risk assessment of the operation had been done beforehand; the plan was to land the grabs in the open position onto a trailer on the quay.
On the quay were two cadets, an officer, two ABs and the vessel’s superintendent. The two cadets had been instructed to help only if specifically instructed, while the ABs were to remove the wires when the grab was safely secured on the trailer.
The grabs were landed on the trailer in the open position with the bucket in a forward and aft direction as planned. As soon as the grab was landed on the trailer, one of the cadets climbed up to release the wires but was quickly reprimanded. Once on the trailer it was found that the grabs were too high to pass the height restriction at the shipyard and on the roads; it was subsequently decided to lay the bucket in the closed position and with one side resting on the trailer bed.
The bucket was closed, then lifted and swung to stow the bucket in an athwartship direction. Once the grab was on the trailer and apparently stable, the cadet, unseen by the others as they were preoccupied at other tasks, once again climbed up on the grab to release the two hoisting wires from the crane. Once he removed the hoist from the grab, the cadet released his safety harness to descend, securing a rope to the top of the grab instead to assist him while climbing down.
Although the grab appeared to be stable it was in fact slightly top heavy in the closed position. As the cadet was climbing down the rope, the grab suddenly shifted, falling into the water, and dragging the cadet with it. A lifebuoy was thrown in the water and the cadet retrieved. He was later diagnosed with serious injuries and internal bleeding.
- A risk assessment had been done but the plan was subsequently changed. A reassessment of risks would have been appropriate.
- Notwithstanding the initial risk assessment and assignment of tasks, the cadet, although well meaning, was impetuous in his actions. Many accidents have happened in the past because of the ‘can do’ attitude of undisciplined crew.