Pilot cutter was on routine operation when the coxswain noted a small punt with two men on it painting the vessel’s bow. Concerned for the crewmen’s safety as there was always passing traffic/wash etc. and the fact they were not wearing any buoyancy aid, the coxswain telephoned his supervisor to advise of the situation.
The port supervisor arrived on the quay and noted the punt in the water. Also on the inboard side and out of view of the pilot cutter was a crewman perched on the bulb of the bulbous bow of the ship. At the same time an officer from the ship arrived on the quayside to enquire what was going on.
Our port supervisor pointed to the operation that was happening and highlighted the fact that none of the three men (two on the punt and one on the bow) were wearing any buoyancy aid. The officer seemed unconcerned stating that his crew can swim. Buoyancy Aids (Life Jackets) were supplied and the work on the punt continued and the man on the bow came ashore.
The use of the lifejacket should be questioned as they are for lifesaving purposes and not for this type of work. There should really be proper work wear buoyancy aids.
Harbour Authority – Lessons learned: The Harbour Board Staff are encouraged to note safety concerns and intervene when necessary.
CHIRP contacted the Danish ship operator requesting any information on the lessons learned from any internal review they may have had. The operator replied the notification had been sent to the Owner/ Captain of the vessel concerned. CHIRP is disappointed that despite sending a further request, no information was made available on the safety lesson learned.
The harbour staff stopped the job due to the concern for the seafarer’s safety, in particular the person could have been washed off the bow from the wake of a passing vessel and then hit his head or suffered hyperthermia from being in the cold water.
The Harbour Authority acted in a very responsible manner when observing the hazardous occurrence with the men working over side. They have issued advice to their own staff to continue to exercise vigilance when patrolling the harbour. The Harbour Authority were pleased to see CHIRP’s attempt to follow up their concerns with the ship manager.
The report illustrates a poor application of the SMS and the need for the use of risk assessment and a permit to work when working over side. Charterers using their own company branding on Owner/ Master controlled ships operating in commercial pools should consider the need for compliance with the Charterer’s stated QHSE policies and in particular have an equivalent SMS, whether or not they provide the crew doing the work.