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201607 Overboard fatality

 Edited from official Antigua & Barbuda W.I. Department of Marine Services and Merchant Shipping Report

Maintenance work was taking place on deck; a risk assessment had been done followed by a hazardous work meeting after which a work permit was issued. The work permit and risk assessment clearly stated the risks at hand, namely eye injury and electrocution. All personal protective equipment required for the job was listed and also used by the crew on the job.

The weather was fair with moderate winds and sea and a swell of about one metre. As no seas were being taken on deck this danger was not assessed. The power cable for the grinders was deployed across the deck, which was about two metres above sea level. The cable was in a worn condition.

While the deck maintenance was ongoing, a wave higher than the rest hit the vessel’s side and washed up on deck; sea water covered the electrical cables and power tools in use. Everyone, now standing in the water, felt a light electrical shock in the form of an uncomfortable tingle and tried to escape to a higher, dryer position. Two crew jumped up on the cargo hatch while another crew jumped onto the railing. The crew member on the railing slipped and fell over the side. Rescue operations were initiated but the crew member was recovered deceased – he had drowned.

Lessons learned
-A vessel with low freeboard is susceptible to ship seas on deck even in relatively fair weather.
-When running temporary electrical cables and connections, always think of possible outcomes and plan accordingly.
-Never patch or repair a worn or defective extension cord; worn electrical extension cords should always be replaced with new ones.