THE AUSTRALIAN Transport Safety Bureau is urging crew to adhere to safety procedures in its recently released report on a serious incident that occurred in January 2017.

Two crew members were injured when a scaffold on board the Hong Kong-flagged bulker Shanghai Spirit (IMO 9326328) became unbalanced and toppled forward on the deck. The 140-metre geared bulk carrier was anchored in Keppel bay, about 14 nautical miles north east of Port Alma, Queensland at the time.

Deck crew were using a mobile scaffold tower to carry out routine touch-up work in the cargo holds. The scaffolding fell over when the scaffold tower was moved with two unsecured crewmembers still on the upper tiers.

On hitting the deck, the scaffold tower came apart and the two crewmembers were entangled in the components.

A rescue helicopter was dispatched, making two trips out to the vessel to transport the men to hospital. Both men had to remain in hospital for several days.


ATSB executive director transport safety Nat Nagy said the serious incident highlights the importance of adhering to procedures that assure safety, as well as the value of effective supervision.

“The investigation found that, contrary to established procedures, two crewmembers remained on an unsecured scaffold tower when it was moved across the floor of a cargo hold,” Mr Nagy said.

“As a result, the top-heavy and unstable scaffold tower toppled and fell. The crewmembers themselves were unsecured, without the required safety harness and lines.”

Mr Nagy said the ATSB was especially concerned because this is not the first such occurrence the bureau has investigated.

“Similar occurrences in 2003 and 2009 also resulted in serious injuries and, in one instance, the death of a crew member,” he said. The ATSB reminded owners, operators and crewmembers to plan and undertake risk assessments for assigned tasks in order to identify any shortcomings in procedures and required risk-mitigation measures.