– Traffic watch on a Ro-Ro ferry
A serious injury occurred during the unloading of a Ro-Ro passenger ship. When a trailer was going to be driven ashore by the terminal truck (a tug-master), it was easier to reverse it over the ramp. No traffic watch had been arranged. Instead there was a mate on the ramp edge who oversaw the work. When he noticed that the truck driver had stopped he waved it on, and the truck continued to back over the ramp. A person from one of the vehicles parked onshore waiting to be loaded noticed that the mate had been hit by the trailer and made the truck driver stop. The mate was seriously injured. Had the truck not stopped, it is likely that he would have been even more severely injured and died. It has not been possible to analyze why the mate left the pavement and walked out on the ramp – he remembers nothing about the incident. The investigation showed that coordination between the harbour and the ship was not optimal. There were also shortcomings in procedures in both organizations, such as people on the ramp and car deck that were not involved in cargo handling, which was distracting for the truck drivers. It is also likely that an audible alarm on the terminal truck had warned the mate that the trailer was approaching. Statistics show that collisions with personnel take place from time to time. It is one of the largest risks in modern shipping, although fortunately fatal accidents are not so common.
– Signalman on a dry cargo ship
As mentioned above, the absence of a traffic watch was one factor that may have led to the accident. Similar problems exists when dry cargo ships are unloaded by crane. There is often no signalman (hatch foreman) despite requirements for one. In recent years there have been a number of nasty accidents in which crewmembers or stevedores have died because other personnel did not notice or know that there were people in the hold. In one of them, the stevedores went ashore for lunch while the crane operator continued to unload. Since the stevedores were ashore the crane operator thought that the crew had also left the hold, but they were still there sweeping it clean. One of them went to get a pole to push down residues of cargo, and was then hit on the head by the bucket, breaking his neck. In another incident a crewmember was crushed to death between the bucket and the hold bulkhead when the crane operator swung the bucket to get closer to the bulkhead.
A third example was when a 19-year-old trimmer from the stevedoring company was climbing up from the hold when the crew began to close the hatch. The hatch was directly above the manhole, which should have been locked. The trimmer came up through the manhole and was crushed to death between it and the cargo hatch. All cases are examples of events that could easily have been prevented if the prescribed signalman or traffic watch had been there. This job is very important, not just for instructing the crane operator but also as a communications link between the ship and the stevedoring company. Several of the cases have been heard in court and the management has been found responsible.
SFu journal no. 6:05:02 2011-1246