The Marine Casualty Investigation Branch (MCIB) has released its report on the investigation into a serious injury onboard the 32.5m trawler Marliona SO 975, reports Paul Scott.
The report – the purpose of which is not to attribute fault or blame – says that the vessel was tied up in Greencastle harbour on 3 February, 2021, and was due to remain in port for 24 hours, having been fishing for the previous five days.
In preparation for the next trip, two of the crew attempted to change a worn chain-link on the starboard trawl door. The link was jammed against the door, and could not be released unless the winch was slacked off.
The skipper then decided to complete the operation himself. The report notes that no method statement or plan was in place for the procedure.
As the skipper reached down over the gunwale, with his left arm on the starboard stern corner, to hold the chain-link straight so one of the other crew members could knock out the pin and release the link, the vessel rolled slightly, tightening the ropes. The trawl door then moved, trapping the arm of the skipper.
The skipper called out to crew members working nearby. They managed to release the skipper’s arm by attaching a hook to the top of the trawl door via the stern A-frame, which was extended, and winching it away from the hull. Bleeding heavily from the injury, the skipper was taken to the bridge, where first aid was given by a crew member who had recently undergone the three-day BIM first aid course. The report states that the crew member’s quick actions ‘saved the life of the casualty’.
An ambulance transferred the skipper to hospital, where he was treated for serious soft tissue injuries and heavy bleeding. He was later discharged, returning to work in May 2021.
The report concludes that the probable immediate causes of the incident were that the trawl door ‘was not secured adequately and was in the wrong position, making it prone to movement from side to side’.
It notes that the repair could have been carried out more safely if the door had been landed on to the quay. “This would have been a quick operation to complete in a safe manner,” says the report. Other factors, such as fatigue, may also have contributed to decisions made on the day, it says.
The report makes several recommendations, including that the Minister for Transport should issue a Marine Notice reminding fishing vessel owners and operators of the dangers of working with trawl doors and the physical hazards associated with trawling, and to ensure that trawlers are risk-assessed for crush zones that are clearly marked out.
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