Investigation finds safety failings after Scottish worker crushed to death

An investigation into the death of a dredge worker who was crushed between his boat and a quayside wall has identified a series of safety failings, prompting the marine accident watchdog to call for an overhaul of guidance and procedures.
Brian Smith was crushed to death while disembarking the Cherry Sand dredger. Picture: MAIBBrian Smith was crushed to death while disembarking the Cherry Sand dredger. Picture: MAIB
Brian Smith was crushed to death while disembarking the Cherry Sand dredger. Picture: MAIB

Brian Smith was crushed while disembarking the Cherry Sand vessel at Rosyth in February last year, before slipping into the water.

The 72-year-old, the master of the boat, had taken a single step towards the quay, but the vessel was too far away from its berth at the time.

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Now, the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has ruled that the method used for self-mooring the boat was “inherently hazardous.”

The 44-page report into Mr Smith’s death notes that he was warned by another crew member not to attempt to leave the boat as it was too early, with the boat around a metre-and-a-half away from its berth.

Wearing a life jacket, the crew were able to recover him but his injuries were too severe and he could not be revived.

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The MAIB said that as a result of the hazardous nature for self-mooring the Cherry Sand, crew members routinely stepped ashore or on board before the vessel was tight alongside its berth.

It found another failing was linesmen not being used and that no measures were taken to avoid having to place a crew member ashore while the vessel was unmoored.

An audit by UK Dredging did not identify any safety issues that were below the expected level.

The MAIB has recommended that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency updates the code of safe working practices to include guidance for safe self-mooring, and to make clear the circumstance in which it is permissible for crew to carry out self-mooring operations.

Associated British Ports has been recommended to review its audit programme to ensure a common approach to safety and adherence to operational procedures across the UK Dredging fleet.

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