Ship’s cranes an accident waiting to happen

Credit: Dietmar Hasenpusch

A total of 55 reports of faulty ships lifting gear or cargo handing on board foreign-flagged ships in New Zealand ports were recorded in 12 months to April 2018.

On average, it is twice every month.  Of these, 18 were down to faulty ship’s crane hoists or runner wires.

In total, Maritime NZ reports lifting gear incidents made up approximately 12% of all recorded incidents and accidents linked to foreign-flagged vessels in New Zealand waters in 2018.

The range of failures or faults were attributed to a mix of poor maintenance and/or improper use, Maritime NZ reports.

In one incident, a crane’s running wire broke while lifting logs onto the ship at the Port of Napier, dropping the load around 6 m to the deck.

“Fortunately there were no injuries reported to the six stevedores working on the dock at the time,”  a Maritime NZ spokesperson told Safety at Sea.

Each year, about 945 foreign vessels visit New Zealand, but many NZ ports have no shore-based lifting equipment and rely on ship-based cranes.

While there were no recent fatalities, Maritime NZ reported that the safety of crew, stevedores, and others was at risk.

It successfully lobbied the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to tighten regulation of ship’s gear, by including lifting gear within the safety management system on SOLAS ships.

In March this year, the IMO Ship Systems and Equipment Sub Committee agreed in principle on a SOLAS mandatory regulation.

The new regulations should come into force by 2024.

Meanwhile,  Maritime NZ has alerted ports that if there is any issue with ship’s lifting gear stevedoring must stop until the equipment is inspected, and, where necessary repaired.

As well international port logistics company, ISO is engaging independent ship survey inspections of lifting equipment prior to any work taking place at the first port where ISO is working the vessel.