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    Marine Safety Forum issues Safety Flash after seaman hit by container

    Organisations and Associations // November 16, 2005

    The Marine Safety Forum has issued a Safety Flash - Safety Flash 24/05 - after a seaman was struck by a container.

    The incident happened during backloading operations at a central North Sea installation. A seaman on a PSV was struck by a container which was unexpectedly lifted off the deck while he was preparing to unhook.

    The vessel had been discharging and backloading during the day in foggy but good conditions - wind variable x 10 knots, confused swell 1-1.5m. The incident occurred at approximately 2145.

    Excessive noise was reported on the deck caused by the normal installation noises plus the sound of the rig foghorn.

    The two seamen on watch had observed the rectangular, open, box-type container being fitted into what was considered a suitable position between two larger containers, amidships Bay 12.

    The crane operator tried to hang the hook over the forward shorter end, but the
    slinging arrangement was too short (no fifth leg) and he then proceeded to hang the hook over the longer side and inboard.

    This was done and the container was observed by the senior seaman (1) to be settled for a period of at least 25–45 seconds. He then moved forward, signalled his watch-mate (seaman 2) and prepared to unhook.

    The container suddenly lifted from the deck, twisted around and hit seaman 2, pinning him briefly against the next container, injuring his upper chest and shoulder area.

    He then proceeded to the bridge for treatment.

    The Master instructed the crane operator, who stated later that he was unaware of the Incident, to cease operations.

    The injured party was in a great deal of pain, medical advice was passed down from the rig medic and, following consultation with a Coastguard doctor, he was medivaced ashore to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

    He was released later the same day and proceeded home to recover.

    An investigation team was formed by the operator, along with the client, and met the ship when it berthed in Aberdeen.

    This resulted in the following:

    Primary Root Cause:

    • The basket was raised unexpectedly whilst the seaman was still in close proximity to

    Significant Root Causes:

    • Communication between the v/l deck and the crane operator was inadequate
    • The position of the injured party did not allow an escape route
    • The sling arrangement was not fit for purpose


    • Direct communication between the vessel deck and the crane operator would, in
    certain conditions, greatly assist in reducing the number of cargo lifting incidents
    • Younger, less experienced seamen need HSE coaching to recognise the dangers of
    working a ‘busy deck’ (deck was 80 per cent full)
    • Baskets and containers should always be fitted with suitable slings – in this case a
    fifth leg may have prevented the incident


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