Stuart Edmonston, Loss Prevention Director at UK P&I Club, discusses an eye injury to a fitter and the lessons that can be learnt from this:
“An engine room fitter was instructed to fabricate a steel locking pin while a tanker was waiting to berth when lying in the port anchorage. To do the job, the fitter put on his personal protective equipment, including a full face visor, and began using an electric angle grinder to fabricate the locking pin in the workshop.
“The electric grinder was fitted with a 180mm diameter disc, but several minutes into the job he switched to a pneumatic grinder, which was designed for a maximum disc size of 100mm. However, the fitter believed a larger disc was required for the job, which led him to remove the smaller disc, as well as the safety guard to make room for a larger disc.
“The fitter continued using the now unguarded grinder to complete the task until suddenly, without warning, the disc shattered. Once this occurred, a fragment of the disc flew towards the fitter and penetrated his face shield, seriously injuring his right eye. Other crew members rushed in to give him first aid and arrangements were made to transfer him ashore for medical treatment.
“This happened as the fitter probably switched from using the electric grinder, because of the higher power provided by a pneumatic grinder. However, installing, cutting and grinding discs larger than the size for which the power tool is designed for is a dangerous practice and increases the risk of disc failure.
“The removal of safety guards on power tools exposes the operator, other crew members and those onboard to serious injuries from flying work debris, broken discs as well as to the additional risk of body parts making contact with the high speed rotating discs.”
· Ship managers and officers should enforce a zero tolerance policy regarding the misuse and abuse of power tools including, but not limited to, the removal of safety guards
· Manufacturers’ instructions for the safe use of power tools must be readily available to the crew and strictly observed
· Inspection and maintenance of power tools to be included in the vessel Planned Maintenance System
· Crew should receive appropriate supervision and training in the use of power tools and be aware of the consequences of misuse and non-compliance with safety precautions
· Angle grinders in the wrong hands are lethal weapons
To watch the latest video in the Lesson Learnt series visit: https://www.ukpandi.com/knowledge-publications/tmtv/video/lessons-learnt-eye-injury-to-fitter-44/