Coast Guard issues safety alert after 2 deaths involving conveyors

The following is a Marine Safety Alert issued by the U.S. Coast Guard:
Listen & Live / Develop & Follow Smart Safety Procedures

This alert reminds all maritime personnel of the dangers associated with
working around or near moving machinery.

A recent marine casualty resulted in a death onboard a Great Lakes ore
carrier. Two crewmembers had been working on clearing the vessel’s sump pump
bilge piping within a cargo conveyor belt tunnel. The piping ran vertically
along the bulkhead adjacent to the conveyor belt. Because the clearance
between the belt and piping was small, the crew had to step on a large
pulley that was part of the system. Simultaneously, a shore-side contractor
was working on the conveyor system in another part of the vessel and well
removed from the crew working on the bilge piping.

Prior to undertaking the work, the person in charge and all involved working
on or near the conveyor had taken some precautions to establish a sequence
of audio alarms to use as an alert. It consisted of an initial alarm
sounding the need to clear the belt, followed by another alarm notification
five minutes later and just prior to starting of the conveyor.

While the crewmembers were working on the piping the initial alarm sounded
and they removed their tools and got off of the belt. Shortly thereafter,
one person went back on the belt to resume work. His co-worker emphatically
told him to get off the belt several times but the he refused, stating that
the audible tunnel alarm was not the conveyor belt alarm but rather a
watertight door alarm which created a similar sound. The alarm sounded
again, the belt started, and the crewmember was entangled in the conveyor
system and killed.

In a very recent casualty another man was killed by entanglement with a
conveyor system. Although this investigation is in its early stage it
appears his arm was caught and severed within components of the conveyor.
It is reported that no safety procedures existed pertaining to work on or
around the conveyor system and that the deceased did not have a radio or
other device to call for help.

Although the investigations are not yet complete and other causal factors
may be discovered the Coast Guard strongly recommends that Owners/Operators,
Classification Society Surveyors, vessel managers and those involved with
the inspection of vessels to ensure that:

regardless of how “its been done before,” develop and implement
operational, maintenance and repair procedures, including a focus on safety
precautions for any element of vessel operations that presents a risk of
injury or death;

every crewmember working in remote spaces be provided with radio or
similar communication devices to ensure instant communication with others

effective lock out and tag out systems are utilized and involve all
persons working on a particular system as responsible parties for the
process and clearing;

verbal acknowledgements from involved personnel of “All Clear” are
required prior to the remote starting of any system when work is taking
place on or near the system;

work actually upon or near live machinery is prohibited while other
work is being performed on the same machinery; and

For crewmembers, the Coast Guard strongly recommends:

Review frequently and ensure that safe work practices and procedures
are always followed.

If safe work procedures and safe working practices are not available
request that they be developed. Study them, raise questions, don’t embrace
methods or procedures that present risk, even if it has always been done
like that before.

Listen to your shipmates when warnings of potential dangers are given.

This Safety Alert is provided for informational purposes and does not
relieve any foreign or domestic requirement. Developed and distributed by
the USCG Office of Investigations and Analysis, Washington, DC. Questions
may be addressed to

By Professional Mariner Staff