Safety Alerts

ICHCA International is committed to helping industry to learn lessons fast,

learn them once and make sure that they stay learnt. 

This information is intended to provide all organisations in the cargo supply chain with the opportunity to consider the events and to review and adapt their own health and safety control measures to proactively prevent future incidents.  We are grateful to all those who provide these alerts and acknowledge their commitment to sharing learning to benefit others.

Learning content like this is highly valuable as it is based on real-world experience.  We encourage everyone with publishable information about incidents to send it to us, so that we can raise awareness across the whole industry.  Please contact us at; sharing your insight could save a life or prevent injury.

Safety Alert: Inappropriate use of lift trucks as work at height platform

  Two examples are included in this report of fall from height injuries that occurred on separate vessels   In each case personnel were being lifted by forklift truck - in a metal ‘basket’ and ‘wooden box’ respectively - to undertake work at height. Neither arrangement was suitable or fit for purpose.   “Personnel other than the driver should not be carried on a truck unless it is constructed or adapted for the purpose. Riding on the forks of a fork-lift truck is particularly dangerous.” - MCA (2015). Code of Safe Practices for Merchant Seafarers. (Amendment 6, October 2021)   In the principal incident, a risk assessment had been undertaken for the work equipment, a high-pressure washer. Use of a [...]

Safety Alert: Red Zone Hazards (e.g. pinch points) during lifting operations

  USA Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) describes “Red zone” hazards as ones that “…occur when a worker is in the direct path of an object if a release of energy from that object would cause the worker to be hit, struck, pinched, impaled, crushed, or caught between objects.” Red Zone injuries range from minor incidents, such as a pinched finger, to fatalities.   USA Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) describes “Red zone” hazards as ones that “…occur when a worker is in the direct path of an object if a release of energy from that object would cause the worker to be hit, struck, pinched, impaled, crushed, or caught between objects.” Red Zone injuries range [...]

Safety Alert: Work at Height £100,000 fine after worker at height stood on pallet raised by forklift

  A recent UK prosecution spotlights the vital importance of safely planning and supervising work at height.   A recent UK prosecution spotlights the vital importance of safely planning and supervising work at height. Our industry has an agile, problem-solving attitude baked into it but that always needs to be built on a foundation of clear assessment and understanding of risk. In this case a team of 3 workers were removing work equipment from the deck of a boat in a harbour’s slipway. Previously erected scaffolding had been removed. The workers raised a pallet to the deck with a forklift truck and used it as a mobile platform to remove items from the boat. A worker was then witnessed climbing [...]

Safety Alert: RoRo operations serious injury to signaller

  A vessel was loading semi-trailers on Deck 3. The first semi-trailer came up the ramp from Deck 2, made a 180° turn on Deck 3, and lined up into the first lane to starboard, in reverse. A signaller was standing near the back of the semi-trailer. Another crew member was stationed on the side of the semi-trailer, ready to start securing, once it was in place. The signaller gave a long signal on a whistle, the signal to the driver to stop. But the semi-trailer kept reversing. Consequently, the signaller was caught between the sem-trailer’s side and one of the vessel’s transverse frames. The signaller suffered a crushing polytrauma with several fractures to face, spine and both sides of [...]

Safety Alert: Fatal accident during lifting operations

  In 2022 a RoRo vessel was in port for loading and unloading operations. Local stevedores and crew members were moving steel support beams that were part of the ship’s gear. During this work, a stevedore foreman was hit by sliding support beams and knocked over an edge to a lower deck. The beams fell on top of him. The large shore crane normally used for the operation had been broken for several months and could not be used. A smaller shore crane was used, but this meant that the crane operator had limited lines of sight and could not see the guide cells on the deck into which containers were to be loaded. To improve crane operator lines of [...]

Safety Alert: Suspended Load and Pinch Points

  Two port workers were rigging a clamshell bucket to a crane hook.  When they had done, they signalled the crane operator to cable up.  The clamshell bucket lifted off the dock and began to spin and swing towards a grain hopper leg.   The port workers grasped the clamshell bucket attempting to control the movement and prevent it from colliding with the grain hopper leg.  The weight and momentum of the clamshell bucket was too great, and one of the workers was momentarily caught between the clamshell bucket and the leg of the hopper.  He suffered a broken pelvis and lacerations to his abdomen. The Lessons:  Assess the likelihood of uncontrolled movement and eliminate the risk where practicable before [...]

Safety Alert: Vital importance of selecting the right equipment for a potentially hazardous task

  This tragic incident on a jack-up oil rig led to three fatalities.   Crucially, the operation was undertaken using Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA) to access a confined space with a risk of hazardous levels of Hydrogen Sulphide.  The SCUBA face masks allowed ingress of toxic gas in this instance. The task should have employed Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA); equipment designed to prevent toxic gas entry into the face mask. There is an acute human factors lesson that the two mask types look similar but are ‘fundamentally different’.  Selecting the correct equipment can only happen with a suitable understanding of the risk and the capabilities and limitations of the equipment.   Summary The legs of a jack-up [...]

Safety Alert: Lithium-ion Battery Explosion Leads to Fire on Oil Tanker

  The National Transportation Safety Board report into a fire on board a docked oil tanker which caused $3 million in damage reveals that the cause of the fire was the thermal runaway of a cell within a handheld radio’s lithium-ion battery.   The fire was caused by one of the cells in a lithium-ion battery for an ultra-high-frequency handheld radio exploding.  The batteries and chargers for the handheld radios were located on the communications table on the bridge.  The vessel’s crew extinguished the fire.  Vessel navigation, communication and alarm systems were damaged beyond use.  No injuries were reported.   Lessons: The risk of thermal runaways and ensuing fires can be reduced by: ​Following manufacturers’ instructions for the care and [...]

Safety Alert: Four incidents emphasising the critical importance of crane operator and signaller communication during lifting operations

  In all the following cases, persons were not in a safe position before cargo was lifted/moved.  There were other safety factors in each, but this alert emphasises a common one across all four cases: the importance of getting crane operator - signaller communications right. Case 1 - Loading housing modules.  A module was lowered onto a stevedore’s foot as he was positioning dunnage. Case 2 and 3: Two similar incidents in only three days occurred in two separate ports, during loading of pulp.  Stevedores were moving to the top of pulp bales from a fixed platform on the quay, to connect hooks.  Required safety harness were in use and connected to the platform.  In both, the safety line entangled [...]

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 [...]

Safety Alert: Unprotected Edges

  This alert, with thanks to the Swedish Club, reports on a fatal fall into a ship’s hold. The casualty was undertaking an inspection of the cargo in the hold.  To do this more effectively they lifted a safety barrier and moved closer to the edge of the partially opened hatch.  The conclusion is that they slipped on ice and fell into the hold.   There were a number of safety measures in place, guardrails were fitted, the vessel’s SMS addressed the risks of falling into an open hold and working on deck under icy conditions. The casualty had on all of the expected PPE.  However, the particular risks from walking on a partially open hatch cover had not been considered. [...]

Safety Alert: Dropped fluff pulp

  ICHCA member G2 Ocean has shared the following Safety Alert concerning a technical failure during a lifting operation.  Thankfully, there were no injuries, but the incident had the potential to have caused a fatality if fallen cargo had struck persons in the area.     A vacuum system was being used to lift a cargo of fluff pulp.  In this operation, there are no hooks connected to metal bands wrapped around the units, as is the case with other types of pulp.  No manual handling of the cargo hold is required for (un)hooking, and this reduces the risk of injuries.  In this instance there was a failure of the main vacuum hose and the load dropped with some parts [...]

Safety Alert: 4-point safety helmet harnesses

  In a recent accident noted by an ICHCA member, an engineer’s safety helmet was caught on a projecting piece of steelwork and pulled backwards. The 4-point harness caused a significant neck/throat injury because it did not break away. The investigation discovered that some harnesses have two break-away settings, 25kg and 50kg. The one in this case was set at 50kg.   Recommendation: All organisations using helmets with 4-point harnesses should: check that the model used has a break-away weak point if the weak point has multiple settings, ensure that when issued it is set to the appropriate breaking force (this is likely to be the lower setting, but the appropriate setting should be identified by a suitable and sufficient [...]

Safety Alert: Assess the risk of fall from height from vehicles – even a limited height fall can have serious consequences

  Case 1: A transport company has been fined after one of its drivers was killed after being knocked off his trailer while loading and unloading it. The driver was delivering timber to a site. He had climbed onto the bed of his trailer to sling the load and attach it to the vehicle-mounted crane. While moving the load using the crane’s remote control he was struck by the crane and fell from the vehicle to the ground.  The driver was taken to hospital and subsequently died. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that this incident was the result of health and safety failings by the company. The risks associated this work at height had not [...]

Safety Alert: Collapse of trailer legs

  What happened:  The legs on a freestanding trailer collapsed during routine loading operations.    Key findings: The landing gear of the trailer had been overextended, causing it to become unstable during loading.   Recommendations made:  A number of recommendations have been made and implemented at the port since this incident, including a toolbox talk with operators, review of alternate support methods for free standing trailers and a new trailer inspection check list for inspection both before and after loading.   Click Here for the full Safety Alert   ICHCA International is committed to helping industry to learn lessons fast, learn them once and make sure that they stay learnt.  This information is intended to provide all organisations in the [...]

Safety Alert: Essential to get the basics right when using handling equipment: adequate planning, pedestrian/equipment segregation, supervision and control of the operation

  A joiner on a construction project was crushed and killed by a 20-tonne excavator. The joiner had been hired by the duty holder to assist with the construction of a concrete overflow weir structure.  He was with colleagues on a road above the work area waiting for the excavator to remove sand from trench boxes when it rotated clockwise and crushed him. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the work had not been adequately planned, and no instruction had been given to the digger operator, or to pedestrians who were working in the area. The risks associated with the work had not been adequately assessed either, and there was no segregation of pedestrians and plant in this [...]

Safety Alert: G2 Ocean shares industry led learning on crush injuries

  ICHCA member G2 Ocean collaborates with stevedores all over the world.  By sharing safety learning between companies and ports, G2 Ocean and ICHCA believe that we can reduce the number of incidents and personal injuries in our industry. One of the ways that G2 Ocean proactively does this is through their monthly Safety Bulletin which is available to all stevedore companies who sign up for it as well as all of G2 Ocean’s vessels and Port Captains. The aim is to make a difference where it really matters; at the “sharp end”, during the cargo operations.   Each 2-page bulletin typically focuses on a specific safety topic.  As with ICHCA Safety Alerts there are no obligations on the reader, [...]

Safety Alert: Effective risk assessment, supervision and training are core to protecting lives

  A newly promoted third engineer was working on an auxiliary engine fuel filter and had not effectively isolated the fuel system.  Fuel under pressure sprayed onto a hot exhaust, penetrated its insulation and ignited. Prompt actions by the crew limited the spread of fire.  Despite multiple search attempts by crew, the third engineer was not found until a shore fire team recovered him an hour after the start of the fire.  He died 9 days later from smoke inhalation. The investigation found that, despite the vessel having a full range of safe systems of work in place, the third engineer, who had worked for the company for over 5 years, died while attempting an unnecessary job conducted in an [...]

Safety Alert: Fractured pelvis in a fall from a ladder

  A crew person suffered a fractured pelvis falling 4-5 metres from a temporary access ladder onboard a cargo vessel. The ladder was installed as a workaround when the permanent cargo hold access / egress hatches were blocked. The ladder was secured to a small access platform off the ‘tween deck by means of ratchet straps. The platform edge was 5 metres in height with no handrails or fall prevention and the ladder could only be accessed by stepping over the ratchet straps at the exposed edge.  The casualty was aware that the ladder had been successfully used by other persons.  Believing it to be safe, he started to descend.  He was alone, it was raining heavily.  The equipment and [...]

Safety Alert: Entrapment by hatch cranes

  30 June 2018 a fatal hatch crane entrapment occurred on board the Beauforce, the second fatal entrapment on that ship in three years.  The Dutch Safety Board produced an extended investigation report into the 2018 accident that also considered accidents on Toucan Arrow (2013) Beauforce (2015) Lady Christina (2017) Karina C (2019) and Cimbris (2020). Five crew and one port worker were fatally injured, one per accident, across this group. In all six cases:  no physical separation between persons and moving equipment no prevention of other operations in danger zone crane operator could not see the casualty no communication between crane operator and casualty no crew saw the accident happen equipment movement alarms were clearly audible in four cases, [...]

Safety Alert: Recognizing Fire Hazards & Proper Cargo Stowage

  Following recent RoRo vessel fires, ICHCA and our partners have continued discussing fire hazards & proper cargo stowage.   This has included factors associated with the transport of previously owned vehicles such as personal goods and combustibles stored within vehicles, vehicles leaking fluids and failure to protect batteries from short circuit.  These are three ‘causal factors’ identified by the US Coast Guard with reference to the Hoegh Xiamen fire in the linked alert below. The USCG Alert notes that there were ‘numerous vehicles throughout the vessel’ that were not in compliance with onboard requirements.  These included:   ammunition found in a vehicle trunk leaking fuel from a vehicle paint and cardboard in a vehicle trunk a heavily corroded battery [...]

Safety Alert: Essential to maintain handling equipment, operate safe systems of work and train operators

  A mechanic died while repairing a forklift truck.  The experienced employee was working with a new employee as they attempted to fix a steering fault on a forklift truck at the firm’s site.  While doing this, the mechanic told the new employee, who was driving the forklift truck, to move the vehicle forwards.  However, the forklift truck reversed and trapped the mechanic against a trailer. The casualty was taken to hospital with severe head injuries following the incident and placed in an induced coma.   An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the forklift truck was over 30-years-old and had not been maintained nor subjected to a Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations examination for [...]

Safety Alert: Injury resulting in amputation

  During operations to load a container to a vessel deck, a ground lock was seen to have moved at the loading location under an incoming container. The vessel Hatch Foreman instructed the crane operator to lift the container such that the lock could be adjusted.   As the Foreman was attempting to adjust the lock, the other end of the container came free from its locks causing the container to land trapping the Foreman’s hand / fingers. He called immediately for the container to be lifted. Emergency response (ER) measure were implemented, and the Foremen was transferred to hospital. The outcome was the amputation of an index finger.   For the full Safety Alert, Click Here ICHCA International is [...]

Safety Alert: Mooring launch crushed against the side of a container vessel

  The aft mooring launch sat at the stern of a containership, waiting for the third line to be lowered to them.  Instead, the two lines that had been run ashore and were fast on the bollards were slackened off by the aft mooring team and dumped into the water.    The launch tried to move away from the lines to avoid getting tangled.  When the launch was almost clear, the ship heaved up on the two lines again, only to catch the mooring launch, lifting it out of the water and crushing against the underside of the ship’s flare. The launch crew were unable to get the crew’s attention despite prolonged shouting and use of their horn.  Finally, the [...]

Safety Alert: Familiarising Fire Emergency Responders with Vessels, Ports and Terminals

  The investigation has started into the fire on board the Grande Costa D'Avorio - in which two firefighters tragically lost their lives. While we wait to learn from the results, ICHCA Technical panel members have discussed ways ports and terminals may help protect emergency responders as well as crew and port workers in the event of a fire.   It is not possible to cover all emergency response planning in a safety alert so we have chosen to focus in this alert on vessel familiarisation. Several members host familiarisation visits with firefighters invited to safely walk a vessel deck and learn firsthand the environments in which they might have to fight a fire. These visits can enhance dialogue between [...]

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