Safety Alert: Stevedore struck by forklift on passenger ferry stern ramp
A stevedore suffered a fractured leg after being run over by a forklift truck on the stern ramp of a ro-ro ferry in an incident with potential for even more severe consequences.
The ferry’s staff were responsible for simultaneously supervising the offloading of cars and palletised cargo, which was undertaken using forklift trucks driven by stevedores. After the cars had been offloaded the crew prepared to back load excavators onto the ro-ro’s deck, a process that required the positioning of lengths of heavy rope on the stern ramp. At the same time as two stevedores lifted the first length of rope and were moving it across the centre of the stern ramp, a forklift truck with a pallet of slate was being driven off the ferry.
The forklift truck driver did not see the stevedores on the stern ramp. The stevedore nearest to the approaching forklift truck was standing with their back to the ferry and did not see the oncoming forklift truck. The forklift truck driver was wearing ear defenders and did not hear a shouted warning from the crew in time to prevent the forklift truck striking the stevedore on the leg, causing multiple fractures.
MAIB concludes that the accident was both foreseeable and preventable given the frequency of accidents involving pedestrians and vehicles on vessel stern ramps.
1. Hazard → pedestrian and vehicular work was not segregated. The forklift operator’s line of sight was obscured by the palletised load on the forks. The stevedores had become accustomed to working near moving vehicles. The strategy of see and be seen, with the onus on pedestrians to keep out of the way, was flawed. Industry codes of practice require that pedestrians and vehicles remain segregated by appropriate means.
2. Procedure → A system of control should have been established to effectively segregate pedestrian workers from vehicles or to prevent pedestrians working on the stern ramp during loading and discharge operations.
3. Communicate → It is essential that those who supervise and manage these activities work together to identify and resolve conflicts between each other’s documented safety management systems.
For the incident details see page 14 of: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/maib-safety-digest-22023-published
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