Barge Scrap Creates a Chain-Reaction Accident, One Killed
On August 28, 2008, employees were tasked to cut up and scrap two hopper barges. Employees precut the walls of the Barge #1 with torches. They left two beams holding the wall until it was time to lift the wall out of its original position and place it in the yard where it would be cut into two-foot by five-foot pieces for scrap. The employees finished cutting up the bow section of the barge into four pieces. Three pieces had been lifted out and placed in the yard.
The employees rigged the last piece of bow section on Barge #1 and called for all employees to exit the barge prior to the lift. One employee gave a signal to the crane operator to make the lift. As the bow section came up, it rotated and struck the port wall of Barge #1. The wall fell outboard of the barge and struck the starboard wall of Barge #2.
The wall of Barge #2 fell on an employee that was standing on the deck of Barge #2. The falling object caused multiple blunt force trauma accompanied by asphyxia which killed the employee.
What went wrong?
The last section of Barge #1 may have been improperly rigged for the lift, as rotation can be the result of an unbalanced load. More importantly, the command to “clear the vessel” was communicated clearly to the employees on Barge #1 but not to employees on Barge #2.
When performing tasks that carry a risk of injury, clear communication of danger must be made to anyone within the danger zone. Do not proceed until that call is acknowledged.
Republished from Marine Construction Magazine Issue IV, 2021