Wednesday 12th Dec, 2018

Molten metal leads to cargo fire

Photo: Jim Wilson and Hema Maps
Photo: Jim Wilson and Hema Maps

SHIP operators have been warned to stay alert to fire risk following a welding incident on board general cargo ship BBC Xingang (IMO 9508483) off Newcastle late last year.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has released a report into an incident on December 11 when molten metal ignited cargo coverings.

According to the Bureau, welding work was underway at the time in order to remove sea fastenings on the ship’s tween deck.

Crew and the hot work team held a meeting beforehand to discuss safety.

Nonetheless, the hot work created molten metal and other hot material that burnt through to the cargo below and ignited the cargo coverings. Fortunately the fire was quickly extinguished.

ATSB executive director transport safety Nat Nagy said ship fires from hot work to remove sea fastenings were a constant danger.

“This is the third time the ATSB has investigated ships fires that were found to be caused by hot work to remove sea fastenings,” Mr Nagy said.

“It’s important that ship crews do not underestimate the safety risk of this common activity and remain vigilant while undertaking hot work,” he said.

“Implementation of comprehensive risk controls and procedures should include detailed task-specific appraisals, risk and hazard assessments, work permits, and toolbox meetings.”

The ATSB investigation found the “flammable nature of the cargo coverings” had been inadequately identified before the hot work and the fire watch was not instructed to monitor the area immediately below the hot work.

“Ship operators need to be mindful that the responsibility for the implementation of these controls rests with the ship’s master, especially when shore labour is involved and multiple organisations’ safety and work procedures could apply,” Mr Nagy said.

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