Home' Ships and Shipping : August 2009 Contents Fatalities, serious injuries and chronic medical problems among
those involved in moving containers are now occurring with a
frequency that is becoming unacceptable to Western nations.
Onboard working arrangements in terms of access to containers,
movements in and around containers and securing containers, is
an important issue for stevedores and the ship's crew. All know
that ill-considered design, construction and maintenance of ships,
can render container working hazardous.
As a result, major terminal operators are now inspecting ships
before deciding whether to work them, and advising Port State
Control where necessary. Their disquiet has now led to a number
of initiatives that give added weight to good practice, including the
IMO initiative led by the International Cargo Handling
Coordination Association, and provisional rules from Lloyd's
Register -- the Ergonomic Container Lashing notation (ECL).
The hazards these initiatives are seeking to avoid include, falls
from height, such as from outboard stanchions; slips, trips and
falls on the level access ways; minor injuries and musculoskeletal
disorders caused by awkward working spaces and falling objects.
Fully addressing these hazards requires a 'safe system of work', that
will also cover design, procedures and training.
Designing work areas for safe and
Container securing is performed at four work areas between
stacks, lashing bridges, outboard positions and hatch cover ends.
The following steps are required for prevention:~
• Fall protection: The most significant hazard is falls from height.
The level of risk exposure in many current ships is remarkable,
and it is surprising that there has been only one known formal
incident report. The most credible explanation for this is the
mix of ship and shore regulation. The hazards of container top
working have been mitigated by measures taken by the ports,
but there are hazards that require mitigation by ship design.
Frequently, some fencing is all that is required.
• Falling object hazards: This is largely an operational matter, but
there are aspects that can be improved by design. Twist-locks
and stackers that do not fall out from a transiting container,
lashing bars that do not fall out of their socket when loosened
reduce the risk, and the introduction of overhead protection on
lashing bridges also provides some protection.
• Prevention of slips, trips and falls on the level: These are caused
by poor surfaces and trip hazards arising from the ship's
structure and loose fittings.
• Avoidance of excessive stretching: It is possible to place
requirements on ship design that would prevent excessive
stretching, based on current practice. The key task requirement
is to be able to hold the lashing bar up and present it to the
container. This translates to a requirement for the distance
between the bottom of the lashing bar and the work platform to
be 1,600mm or less.
The distance between the work area and the stack is important
for lashing bridges where the operator cannot stand next to the
stack and has to lean over the rail waving a heavy lashing bar.
Extensions on lashing bars may solve a structural problem, but
they generate an operational problem, and cannot be considered a
satisfactory arrangement from the operator point of view.
In general the design of a work area needs to include an area of
deck or a work platform, clear of obstructions, and safe access to
the work area, which may well be on a platform. Inadequate space
leads to slow and ineffective securing and may lead to slips, trips
and fall hazards due to cluttered conditions.
Fall protection may well be required at the outboard ends of the
work area. The most widely adopted current regulation for this work
area requires 550mm between containers and recommends 550mm
clear space (i.e. between deck cleats) as a work area. Adequate space
is required between the deck cleats and the stacks (ideally 150mm)
to allow the turnbuckle to be tightened effectively.
Lashing bridges represent a big step forward in terms of working
arrangements, but they are not hazard free and the design of access
hatches requires attention to detail to prevent falls. The area under
the lashing bars is out with the lashing bridge, leaving the work
platform relatively free for operators. A consensus on the width of
the lashing bridge has still to emerge. Lloyd's Register has adopted
a 600mm width, based on current good practice.
The prevention of falls from outboard positions has to be the
highest priority. There is a great deal of very poor design practice,
with no attempt to prevent a fatal hazard.
A work platform is required. This may not appear as a consequence
of normal ship design, and so may need to be added specifically.
Access to the platform may need to be provided in addition to normal
ship access routes. Fencing is required on the outboard side and where
falls are not prevented by structure or containers.
Hatch cover ends
Fall protection in the form of fences will be required. Whether
the fencing is permanent or temporary depends on the height of
the coaming and distance from the work area to hatch opening.
Fall protection may only be required when a hatch cover has
The normal ship design process may not generate a suitable
work area, and it may be necessary to add a work platform at the
right height, and to provide suitable access.
Selecting lashing fittings
The selection of lashing fittings and their arrangement needs to
consider a combination of effective securing and the performance
of the lashing task. This means the boundary between ergonomics
and securing the containers can be blurred.
Mixing left and right-handed manual twistlocks is a
long-standing issue. Modern fittings have reduced workload and
removed some problems, but have brought new issues with them.
In some cases the search for cost reduction has led to fittings with
insufficient material and robustness for everyday operations.
Operators need to be able to see the status of semi-automatic
twistlocks and to lock and unlock them easily.
Lashing bars must be matched to the corner fitting they are used
in (top and bottom corners are different). Swivel headed bars are
preferred to rigid ones. There is a weight-strength trade-off in the
selection of lashing bars, and the state of the art has not yet
achieved consensus on the correct balance. Ongoing research may
help to achieve one. Adequate space around turnbuckles is required
to allow them to be tightened and loosened. Effective securing can
sometimes be prevented by other fittings or ship structure.
Safe access and movement round the ship
The means of preventing slips, trips and falls have been
documented for a long time, and most shore-based industries are
legally required to adopt them.
Guidance was produced in the mid 1970s to finally tailor such
requirements to ship design, but application was stalled by the oil
crisis at that time. Guidance for ship design exists, but slips, trips
and falls remain a major hazard on ships, and a priority for the
IMO Human Element Working Group.
Access to the ship
Guidance on gangway design is well-established, and there is a
consensus on the requirements. There is currently work at the IMO
to introduce requirements for gangway design under SOLAS II.
Some port operators have highlighted the need for safe access to
the ship. The Lloyd's Register ECL notation requirements are in
line with current good practice, and will be reviewed when
information becomes available from IMO.
Ships have, in the past, been designed with working
arrangements that support safe and effective securing. For existing
ships with design shortfalls, it is frequently possible to make low
Work is underway at the IMO, and the specific requirements in
the proposed Annex to the CSS Code may well change. Similarly,
the Provisional Rules have not yet been published and are still
undergoing review. It is the hope that these initiatives, and the
initiatives by the terminal operators, can converge on a common
cost-effective set of design criteria.
For further information contact:
Lloyds Register, UK. Web: www.lr.org
August 2009 SHIPS AND SHIPPING
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