Official report: edited from US Coast Guard ‘Marine Investigation
The US Coast Guard has issued a safety alert about the importance of properly maintaining and repairing vessel electrical systems including those located in inaccessible or confined areas.
In a recent casualty, a young mariner employed on board a bulk carrier was electrocuted while working in a dark and confined cargo tunnel beneath the ship’s cargo holds. Another crew member who went to his aid also received an electric shock from the same source and sustained a serious injury.
Electric shock on ship
The investigation revealed that the heads of both crew members had contacted a deckhead lamp fixture that was damaged and improperly repaired. The fixture lacked a light bulb, a globe, and a guard. It appears that, at one time, the fixture was separated from its connection box and a repair was made using insulation tape to cover some open wires without properly replacing the connecting fitting between the fixture and the box. It also appears that the
ship connection box was not earthed
due to the use of plastic cable ties instead of solid metal fasteners.
It is vital that all crew members do their best to ensure their safety as well as that of their co-workers by reporting and acting to correct unsafe conditions. It is also critical that vessel and shoreside management personnel establish and maintain effective programmes where unsafe conditions like this one can be reported, acted upon and effectively managed. These principles have been widely adopted in on board safety management systems. In this incident, a hazardous condition was found but the repair was grossly inadequate and did not eliminate the unsafe condition.
As a result of this casualty, the Coast Guard strongly recommends to vessel owners/operators, port captains/ engineers, crew members, and marine inspection personnel, especially those associated with older vessels, to be alert for such hazards and to take immediate action to report, properly document and correct any hazardous condition.