Lessons learnt from container working accidents

Tally clerk run down by container handler

A forklift container handler was moving containers from a holding area to the quayside. There they were placed in a row ready for loading onto a ship. Forward visibility from the cab was restricted by the forklift mast and associated hydraulic systems.

A tally clerk, wearing high visibility clothing, was checking the containers at the quayside. The container handler was moving between the row of containers and a crane on the opposite edge of the quayside. As the driver turned to check his clearance, the tally clerk stepped into the path of the handler and was struck. He suffered serious head injuries but made a near-full recovery.

The investigation revealed:

  • Quayside work badly organised
  • Inadequate arrangements segregating vehicles and pedestrians
  • Inadequate space available for manoeuvring the fork lift
  • Lack of co-operation between a number of contractors
  • No effective supervision of the work.

Agency worker suffers near fatal fall from container top

A young worker had been at the docks for four weeks and was working on container operations for the first time. He was working with a team loading empty containers onto a ship.

The containers were being stacked into the hold in stows of 12, 3 high by 4 wide. Between each stow was a 750mm gap, up to 8m deep. The worker fell from the edge of a container.

The investigation revealed:

  • General induction training had been given but this did not include anything on container top working
  • It had become custom and practice for workers to step across the gaps between the stows
  • Harnesses were provided but were not used; their suitability had not been assessed

Container cranes - crew changeover

A trainee reserve ro-ro operator was undergoing a familiarisation visit to observe the operation of a ship-to-shore crane. He was leaving the moving gantry attached to the trolley (crane cab). Thinking the trainee was clear; the crane operator moved the trolley toward the dock. This coincided with the trainee stepping from the moving gantry to the fixed gantry. He was crushed between the gantries and forced onto the outside of the fixed gantry before falling some 36m to his death.

As part of assessing the risks associated with using container cranes, access arrangements should be considered. This should include:

  • The measures in place to prevent a person being in a place of danger when the crane moves -drivers, visitors and maintenance staff
  • Whether some form of interlocking is needed to prevent the movement of the crane when people are in a position of danger
  • Access arrangements and associated dangers to be part of training given
  • The needs for effective supervision to make sure arrangements to prevent danger are followed and are adequate.

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Updated 2021-11-09