There was a fatality on the Yu Long Shan during some repairs taking place on the cargo hold. This accident occurred on 11 March 2004, and it resulted in the death of an engineer cadet. The Yu Long Shan was a large Chinese cargo ship built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. The crew of the ship complied with the necessary safety regulations and even held safety meetings to ensure the continued safety of their staff. The cadet engineer had joined the company two years before and had previously sailed with the other bulk carriers owned by the company. This was however, his maiden trip on the Yu Long Shan.
This accident took place on the morning of 11 March 2004. Some arrangements had been made to shear and change some handrails on the ladders that had been damaged. These repairs were to happen in the cargo hold number six. The repairs began at around 0800 hrs with the identification of the handrails to be changed by the chief engineer. The exercise continued smoothly until 1050hrs when the cadet fell almost two meters and landed on the hold of the ship. The chief engineer was the first to see him after hearing an unusual sound and deciding to check. He offered him some first aid and asked the crewmembers to call for assistance. The cadet bled profusely from all the facial orifices, and succumbed to his injuries before the medical help arrived.
The helicopter arrived at 1205 hrs and the cadet was declared dead at 1220 hrs. The main reason that led to the fall is unknown but evidence points to the fact that he overbalanced as opposed to slipping off the ladder. This is because if he slipped, a collision was expected between him and the engineer below him; however, this did not happen. Some factors contributed to the cadet’s fall. For instance, it is thought that the cadet did not fasten his safety belt to a strong point after giving the engineer some materials. This would have made his safety belt unable to withstand his weight and give way in the case of any strain. He was also wearing cotton gloves during the accident. These gloves do not provide a firm grip, and this may have aided in the fall since he could not hold on to the handrails during the fall.
Another reason was attributed to the replacement of the railings with a new pipe that was galvanized. This made the surface even more slippery and may have contributed to the cadet’s fall. The cadet was slim and was tall, about 180 centimeters. The body build of the cadet also contributed to the fall since his centre of gravity was higher than that of the handrails. The hand rails had also been affected by grab damage and were, therefore, displaced. This would have made it difficult for him to hold on to the handrails. The medical response team also took a long time to get to the scene of the accident. The emergency call was received at 1057 hrs, but they arrived at 1205, several hours after the distress call had been made. This delay was attributed to the lack of a trauma specialist at the medical emergency base.
Therefore, they had to obtain a doctor from the health centre, and wait for him to complete his duties there after which he would go to the ship where the accident had taken place. This delay, if avoided, may have resulted in the cadet’s life being saved. The report concluded that this how normal daily routines could change into tragedies in places of work. It also stressed on the importance of safety at the work place. There were some recommendations made in order to avoid such accidents. These suggestions include the use of correct attire like gloves and shoes. Moreover, workers should concentrate on what they are doing and should ensure that their safety belts are well secured. Correct attire for instance will protect workers from any accidents that may happen in the course of their work. These suggestions will enable such companies to decrease the number of accidents that occur on board ships especially.
Australian Transport Safety Bureau. (2004). Yu Long Shan: Fatality during Cargo Hold Repairs, (issue 201). Australia: Australian Transport Safety Bureau.