Following a recent fatality on board a Gibraltar-registered vessel involving the failure of a hatch cover gantry crane, a preliminary investigation has highlighted the possible need to remind owners and managers of Gibraltar vessels of the requirements with regard to lifting operations and lifting equipment maintenance, inspection, test, and certification.
The majority of injuries to crew involving lifting equipment occur as a result of persons being struck, crushed or caught in moving parts and equipment. The cause is often attributed to incorrect practices or to errors of judgement.
Other types of serious accidents are caused by the failure of lifting equipment or single point failures of equipment.
Inappropriate use of lifting equipment and failure of lifting equipment can also have an adverse effect on a vessel's stability, and on smaller vessels, this could possibly lead to capsize.
Gibraltar vessels are required to comply with the UK Merchant Shipping and Fishing Vessels (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment) Regulations 2006, guidance on this regulation is provided by the UK Marine Guidance Note MGN 332 (M+F) as amended.
These regulations place certain duties on vessel operators and managers with regard to lifting operations and lifting equipment maintenance, inspection, test and certification, and the following highlights some of these requirements.
Companies should note that during attendance on-board Gibraltar vessels and also during safety management audits at company premises, surveyors from this department will examine the procedures for lifting appliance maintenance, inspection, and certification.
Definition of Lifting Equipment
'Lifting equipment' means work equipment used for lifting or lowering loads. This definition therefore includes all lifting appliances on-board a vessel, not only the lifting appliances used for cargo operations.
Lifting appliances such as hatch cover gantry cranes, provision and stores cranes, engine room overhead travelling cranes, life raft and rescue boat davits, hose handling cranes, etc., are therefore required to comply with the requirements of the regulations.
In order to ensure that all parts of lifting equipment and related equipment are kept in good repair and working order, regular preventative maintenance should be carried out.
Maintenance should include regular examinations by a competent person. Such examinations should be carried out as required by the regulations but in any event at least once annually. Checks should look for general material defects such as cracks, distortion, corrosion, and wear and tear that could affect safe working load and overall strength.
When there is any suspicion that any appliance or item of equipment may have been subjected to excessive loads, exceeding the safe working load (SWL), or subjected to treatment likely to cause damage, it should be taken out of service until it can be subjected to a thorough examination by a competent person.
Greasing should be thorough and frequent, as dry bearings impose additional loads that can lead to failure.
The condition of all ropes and chains should be checked regularly for wear, damage, and corrosion and replaced as necessary.
Shackles, links, and rings should be renewed when wear or damage is evident.
Structures should be examined frequently for corrosion, cracks, distortion, and wear of bearings, securing points, etc.
Hollow structures such as gantries or masts should be checked for trapped water inside. If water is found, the structure should be drained, appropriately treated, and then sealed.
There should be regular function tests of controls, stops, brakes, safety devices for hoisting gear, etc., preferably before the start of operations.
The items listed above are illustrative only, and the final responsibility for ensuring regular and appropriate maintenance is carried out rests with the ship owner and employer.
Wire Rope Precautions – the premature wear of a wire rope in a localized spot such as a sheave or drum is a common occurrence.
This problem should be noted by the regular inspection of the wire rope as part of the preventative maintenance system.
The regular moving of the rope away from the wear point may reduce the problem, or alternatively, another option may be to reverse the rope.
Organization of Lifting operations – every lifting operation is required to be properly planned, appropriately supervised, and carried out in a safe manner, only persons trained and competent to do so shall operate any lifting appliance.
All training of persons to operate lifting appliances should include an appreciation of the relevant section of the UK Code for Safe Working Practices.
Thorough Examination and Inspection – all lifting appliances not certified for lifting persons are required to be thoroughly examined by a competent person at least every 12 months to ensure that health and safety are maintained and that any deterioration can be detected and remedied in good time.
A competent person is defined as a person possessing the knowledge or experience necessary to enable them to satisfactorily perform the duties under the regulation. It is essential that the competent person is sufficiently independent and impartial to allow objective decisions to be made.
All loose gear (accessories for lifting) defined as any gear by means of which a load can be attached to lifting equipment shall not be used unless it has been thoroughly examined by a competent person within the 12 months immediately prior to such use.
The established practice being for all loose gear to be thoroughly examined at the same time as the thorough examination of the lifting appliance.
Testing – all ships lifting equipment is required to be suitably tested by a competent person every five years, following which the competent person will thoroughly examine the equipment and any associated loose gear before certifying the equipment for continued use.
No lifting appliance is to be used unless this test has been satisfactorily carried out within the preceding five years.
Records of Lifting Equipment – all Gibraltar vessels are required to maintain a Register of Lifting Appliances and Loose Gear in the form based upon the model recommended by the International Labour Organisation, an example is shown in annex 19.2 the UK Code of Safe Working Practices.
Records of all thorough examinations and tests by a competent person should be maintained in the Register of Lifting Appliances and Loose Gear.
This shipping information notice was issued on 26 May 2023.