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Serious injury from lathe operation

Vijay Rao

Vijay Rao

Published: February 22, 2021

Picture: Transport Malta Report 05/2021 - TM Copyright

The Club would like to bring to the attention of our Members a recent safety investigation report issued by Transport Malta following a serious injury suffered by a crew member while operating a lathe machine in the engine room workshop.

The report serves as a reminder of the potentially severe hazards of operating machine tools and the safety measures that should be diligently undertaken to prevent an accident.

The injury occurred when a work piece secured on the lathe machine broke loose and hit the crew member. The severity of the injury was accentuated by the speed at which the lathe was operated.

A comprehensive safety management system was in place on the vessel and a list of hazards specific to the operation of a lathe machine was also identified. As required in the vessel’s SMS, a risk assessment was carried out and a toolbox meeting was undertaken before the works commenced.
The investigation report however identified several gaps in the onboard implementation of the procedures and risk mitigation measures undertaken leading up to the incident.

Key learnings from the incident:

  • List of recorded hazards, although comprehensive, did not identify the specific hazard that resulted in the accident;
  • Risk assessment should have included all involved parties;
  • Toolbox talk should discuss any peculiarities of the specific work including any need for supervision;
  • Availability and use of any device that could enhance safety should be considered;
  • Training, familiarisation and skill assessment should be a constant process of verification and update.
Picture Transport Malta Report 05/2021 - TM Copyright

Works undertaken in a workshop, and especially the use of power tools such as the lathe machine, can be wide and varying. Staying alert to the real risks in this environment is challenging but paramount to preventing an accident. As per the Code of Safe Working Practices for Merchant Seafarers (COSWP) as detailed in para 18.18, Workshop and Bench Machines (fixed installations) such as a lathe

  • should be operated only by competent personnel;
  • should not be used unless all safety guards and devices are in place and operative;
  • should not be operated if any safety device is missing;
  • and it should be ensured that the work piece is correctly secured

The Club suggests to Members that the incident and the report be promulgated to all vessels for the benefit of the crew and that the failings contributing to the incident, the suggested corrective actions and further recommendations are reviewed and considered for implementation.

A useful methodology for hazard identification and risk mitigation when operating a lathe machine can be found from Worksafe Victoria, Australia. Whilst not a maritime site, similar procedures in hazard identification and mitigation methodology can be applied for shipboard machinery tool operation.

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