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Health and safety

Safety bulletin issued by MAIB following investigation into crew fatality during ferry cargo loading

5 November 2021

A safety bulletin has been issued by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) based on the initial findings of its investigation into the fatal crushing of a crewman.

On 20 July 2021, the bosun suffered the fatal injuries during cargo loading operations of the ro-ro cargo ferry Clipper Pennant in Liverpool, UK. He was marshalling tractor unit drivers who were loading semi-trailers when he was crushed between a moving trailer and the vessel's structure.

Key safety issues highlighted in the bulletin are that 'where tractor units are being used to position semi-trailers, there is an extreme risk of crushing injuries, particularly where the semi-trailer is manoeuvring close to the ship’s structure, with limited means of escape for crew on deck.'

The bulletin also draws attention to The Maritime & Coastguard Agency's Code of Safe Working Practices for Merchant Seafarers (COSWP) which provides guidance for safe operations on vehicle decks.

Safety lessons

Where tractor units are being used to push semi-trailers, safety procedures must be in place to ensure that deck crew are not standing in the vehicle’s path. Operators of vessels with roll-on roll-of vehicle decks are advised to:

  • review their cargo handling procedures to identify the hazards associated with stowage spaces where there may be limited areas for escape
  • conduct a specific risk assessment for all such spaces. These spaces should then be marked and, unless appropriate mitigating measures can be put in place, not used
  • ensure that onboard safety procedures and crew safety briefings reflect the guidance in COSWP Section 27.6.3

MAIB safety recommendations may be made after all aspects of the accident have been investigated. If applicable, such recommendations will be published in MAIB's final report.


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