Encounters At Sea
Certificate of Merit
20th Jun 05
This incident took place on my last ship on a Saturday while trying out the safety and emergency equipment.
The 4th engineers was to ease up and lubricate the operating spindles of the engine room blower flaps. He switched off the blowers by pressing the stop buttons; and as a further precaution tags "DO NOT SWITCH ON -- MEN AT WORK." were put on the breakers. Thereafter, the 4th engineer proceeded to the funnel deck to ease up the threaded spindles.
To access the spindles a segment of the protective mesh on the mushroom vent head had to be removed and one had to insert the head in and reach down with one's hand to clean and grease the spindles.
Meanwhile as part of the Saturday routine, the Electrical officer was trying out the electrical remote stops for the E.R machineries. On doing this, the breakers tripped additionally the warning tags that were attached to the breakers flew off!!! The electrical officer came down to the control room, checked if all the concerned breakers had tripped properly. After satisfying himself, he unknowingly switched on the breakers for the E.R blowers and started both of them.
Within a few minutes, a shell-shocked, 4th engineer trundled into the E.C.R blurting out that his fingers had just missed getting chopped off by the starboard E.R blower blades.
On analyzing what went wrong the following was observed.
1) The 4th engineer had not put off the breakers before putting the tags "DO NOT SWITCH ON -- MEN AT WORK."
2) He had also not written on the E.C.R Notice Board that the E.R blowers had been switched off for routine work.
3) The routine checks for emergency and safety equipments were not carried out in a planned manner, wherein all participations would have known what the others were doing.