During self-discharging operations on board of a bulk carrier, a wiper was caught and squashed between a conveyor belt roller and a supporting beam and consequently died of his injuries.

Narrative
A berthed self-discharging dry bulk carrier was in progress of unloading minerals using the self-discharging equipment with all conveyor belts being in operation. A wiper was ordered to monitor the belt operation between the two belt rooms. The off-loading operation was controlled by the 2nd or the 3rd officer from vessel’s cargo control room. Shortly after the wiper had started his watch duty, he relayed his first status report to the duty mate and continued reporting every 15-20 minutes as it was common practice in the shipboard procedure. Every hour, the Chief Mate made his round which routinely commenced on deck, followed by the inspection of the conveyor through the tunnel and ended after inspecting the weather deck. When he entered the port conveyor belt tunnel end position, he observed immediately the wiper being slumped over the conveyor roller horizontal support beam. The Chief Mate raised alarm and ordered the officer on duty to assist but it was too late, the wiper succumbed to his injuries.

Findings
Several technical aspects as well as human element issues could be identified as causes leading to the fatality. The conveyor belt’s frame was not sufficiently marked to highlight the danger area it posed and a wire mash guard or a cage in vicinity of the rollers and the tail end pulley were missing. There were no conveyor belt instructions displayed at the conveyer belt workplace.
The company’s ISM revealed that specific and detailed safety awareness instructions that should have referred to the risk potential the cargo discharging system posed were missing. Furthermore, no risk assessments had been made in regard to the vessels equipment and work areas.
The fatally injured sailor ignored simple self-protecting measures and should also have been alarmed by his natural instinct to avoid such a proximity to the running belt (10 second risk assessment).

Recommendation
The company’s SMS should be amended emphasizing vessel’s technical features, especially indicating the high risk area along the tunnel conveyors. At the same time, crew’s job description should be expanded to define how to perform duties safely and to instruct newcomers on cargo discharge facilities. Additionally, it is recommended to place safety signs and posters in all high risk areas and safeguard critical points of the discharge gear by rails, cages and other fittings.