202343 - Severe injury during routine task

30 Aug 2023 MARS

A tanker was under way at sea in fair weather conditions. After breakfast, a crew member was undertaking a familiar task; disposing of food waste from the galley in the food waste container on deck.

He lifted the heavy cover but did not install the safety pin to ensure the door remained safely open during the disposal operation. Instead, he relied on this own strength to keep the door ajar. The door slipped and fell on his left hand, causing severe injuries to his ring and middle fingers. After first aid on board he was evacuated ashore and eventually sent home to undergo medical follow-up procedures.

The company investigation found that although the crew member was very familiar with the task, he had acted with overconfidence and in contravention of the established procedure as he had not used the safety pin on the container hatch.

Lessons learned

  • Everyday jobs can appear less risky as we become desensitised to the hazards. Stay aware!
  • A strong safety culture means adhering to procedures and good practices.

Editor’s note: Shortcuts and complacency can easily work their way into common everyday tasks. It is likely that this was not the first time this crewmember had not used the safety pin. If other crew members or senior officers had witnessed these sub-standard acts but did not correct the behaviour, they too are contributing to a weakening of the safety culture.