200751 - Index finger crushed

27 Jan 2012 MARS

A deckhand was casting off a barge's wire ropes when the boat and barge surged, causing the wire ropes to tighten with a jerk, crushing his right index finger in the process. He was very lucky not to have his finger broken or even chopped off completely and required only three sutures.


Before the task, the master had briefed the crew about the casting-off operation. However, this relatively inexperienced deckhand attempted to complete the task in a hurry and made the mistake of placing his hand between the cleat and the eye of the wire rope.


It is clear that the deckhand listened to the master's instructions but due to a mixture of ignorance, nervousness and haste, had completely forgotten everything told him.


At some point in time, every one of us was green. For some of you, this was a very long time ago. Sometimes, just explaining something to someone doesn't always work. We have actually to show someone how to do something. This incident may not have happened if the deckhand was shown exactly where to grab the wire rope. The wire rope should have been grabbed at the bottom part of the eye, closer to where the splice would be. This way, his hands and fingers would not have been in a pinch point next to the bit or cleat, making it less likely to smash a finger. Also, take your time and wait until the captain's command before carrying out a critical task.

Editor's note: Under the ISM Code, it is required to report and record all incidents', document the results of investigations and produce evidence to show the effectiveness of corrective actions. Often, the effectiveness of a ship's or company's safety management system can easily be gauged by the frequency of injury-causing incidents. Incident-free operations can never be achieved without an all-round consciousness and commitment towards safe working practices. It is well known that, over a period, prevention of 'minor' incidents can potentially avert a major accident.