The Australian Safety Bureau (ATSB) has put out its investigation report regarding the injuries sustained among the Happy Buccaneer’s crew, emphasizing on the need for more strict safety requirements for lifting procedures.

The accident took place back on the 23rd of February, this year, at the West Australian port of Hedland. A technician and the bosun had been working together in order to remove a sling hook from the lowest of a pack consisting of four load spreaders. The load spreaders were each 4 meters long, had a width of 1.2 meters and a weight of 2.4 tons. Preceding the lifting procedure, the four spreaders had not been secured into a single unit.

happy bucaneer

Photo: David Sanchez

Following the hook’s removal, as the two crew members were walking alongside the four stacked load spreaders, the crane operator was signaled by the bosun to raise the hook of the crane. While raising the hook, a hammerlock (serves as a joining link) on the chain sling most probably caught the topmost load spreader’s lip, thus causing for the pack to tip off onto the two men below.

The load spreader had pinned down the technician’s right leg, and as a result he had fractured both of his legs. The bosun had fortunately avoided being trapped under but had sustained serious fractures to the lower part of his left leg. The two crew members were taken into emergency and went through some serious surgical procedures, with the technician’s right leg being amputated below his knee.

The ATSB compiled a list of simple safety precautions that are a must when it comes to carrying out crane operations:

  • All lifting and handling operations are to be assessed for potential risks in order to anticipate and prevent potential hazards;
  • The crane operators, along with the banksmen (dogmen) and the appointed assisting crew members are to be at all times aware of one another’s location and the suspended loads’ movement;
  • Rigging gears are to be guided until reaching and an obstacle and equipment free position;
  • Prior to lifting, all loose items are to be combined in order for them to be secured into a single unit;
  • During the carrying out of lifting operations, there must be perfect communication between each member involved.

Spliethoff's Bevrachtingskantoor, managers of Happy Buccaneer, commented that crane operators are to go through additional series of simulator training courses and thorough instructions.