The UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has found that “poor stevedoring practices” were partly to blame for a fatality during the discharging of packaged timber in Alexandria Port, Egypt.
Bulk carrier Graig Rotterdam was at anchor on December 18, 2016, when the bosun, a Chinese national, fell overboard and into a barge after a timber deck cargo stack on which he was standing partially collapsed.
Although the ship’s crew gave first-aid following the accident, the bosun later died of his injuries.
MAIB's report found that the ship’s crew had seen poor stevedoring practices but did not discuss them.
It discovered that, with the deck cargo lashings removed, the cargo packages had insufficient racking strength.
Graig Ship Management, the ship’s operator, received several suggestions from MAIB about how it should improve its Safety Management System with respect to the carriage of timber cargoes.
One of the suggestions was that a lifeline or other means for attaching a safety harness should be available to counter the risk of ship’s crew or shore stevedores falling.
The topic of how to avoid major incidents when loading cargo is examined in 'Safety Initiatives: A Prime Tool', a technical paper by Storrs-Fox from TT Club
MAIB said that, where possible, there should be a master or chief officer appointed with experience of the cargo type being carried.
It stated that the ship’s crew should “proactively engage” with shore stevedores for the purpose of maintaining a safe system of work during cargo operations.
The ship's operator, Norlat Shipping, was also instructed to share all the information for ships chartered to carry timber deck cargo with the master or his representative prior to loading.
This is a requirement of the International Maritime Organization’s Code of Safe Practice for Ships Carrying Timber Deck Cargoes.
In its conclusion, MAIB said: “It has not been possible to establish with certainty how the accident occurred.
“However, poor stevedoring practices probably contributed to the unsecured cargo stack collapsing, and no measures were in place to prevent the bosun from falling overboard as a result.”