Two crew members on board the bulk carrier Shanghai Spirit suffered serious injuries after failing to adhere to safety procedures, an investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) found.
The incident occurred in late January 2017, when the 140-meter bulk carrier was anchored in Keppel Bay, about 15 nautical miles north-east of Port Alma Queensland.
Deck crewmembers were using a mobile scaffold tower to conduct painting and routine touch-up work in the cargo holds. As the scaffold tower was moved with two unsecured crewmembers still on the upper tiers, it became unbalanced and toppled forward onto the deck.
On hitting the deck, the scaffold tower came apart and the two crewmembers were entangled in the components. Emergency services were notified of the incident, and a rescue helicopter was dispatched, making two trips out to the vessel to transport the men to hospital. Both men had to remain in hospital for several days before they could be released.
“This serious incident highlights the importance of adhering to procedures that assure safety, as well as the value of effective supervision, with the investigation finding that, contrary to established procedures, two crewmembers remained on an unsecured scaffold tower when it was moved across the floor of a cargo hold,” ATSB said.
As a result, the top-heavy and unstable scaffold tower toppled and fell. The crewmembers themselves were unsecured, without the required safety harness and lines.
Similar occurrences in 2003 and 2009 also resulted in serious injuries and, in one instance, the death of a crew member.
“Owners, operators and crewmembers are reminded to plan and undertake risk assessments for assigned tasks in order to identify any shortcomings in procedures and required risk-mitigation measures.”