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UK MAIB issues report into dredger accident

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The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) in the UK has issued a report about an accident that occcured on the dr

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) in the UK has issued a report about an accident that occcured on the dredger Sand Falcon.

Sand Falcon was secured alongside a jetty when the trolley from its gantry-type stores crane detached and fell 7.5m, landing on the deck guardrails.

The trolley weighed over 400kg and narrowly missed 7 people who were working nearby, either on the main deck or on the jetty ashore. The crane was being prepared to load ship’s stores at the time and it was not lifting any weight.

The failure was due to a combination of design flaws, lack of maintenance and weaknesses in the methods used for inspection and testing to assess the safety of the crane.

This accident is one of three similar cases that happened in the period from January to May 2010. A total of 11 people have been injured in the 29 accidents involving the failure of non-cargo handling cranes that have been reported to MAIB since 2001.

Existing regulations in the UK and European Union (EU) for lifting equipment are extensive, and the International Safety Management (ISM) Code clearly stipulates the requirement for safe working practices. However, these regulations only apply to employers and ship operators, and there are few obligations applicable to equipment manufacturers and shipbuilders for this type of crane.

The consequence of this is that poor crane design, limited access for crane maintenance, and inadequate instruction/maintenance manuals were found to be contributory factors in this and in many other of the similar accidents reported to MAIB.

International regulations in this area are designed to protect the safety of shore workers and only apply to cargo handling equipment.

In view of the actions already taken by the vessel’s operators, CEMEX, and the crane’s manufacturers, ACTA, no recommendations have been made. However, the MAIB has issued a Safety Flyer to the Shipping Industry to highlight the importance of improving the design, maintenance and inspection of non-cargo lifting appliances.

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