USCG Safety Alert: Entanglement Accidents
Thursday, January 02, 2014

A recent marine casualty involving a severe injury to a crewmember aboard an inspected passenger vessel reminds us that these hazards happen in any segment of the maritime industry.

Moving, rotating and reciprocating machinery may include (but are not limited to) rotating or spinning shafts, fan blades, fan or serpentine belts, gearing, hydraulic ram assemblies, couplings, arms, linkages, windlasses, drums, blocks, booms and sheaves, etc.

In this instance, a crewmember’s hair became entangled with a rotating propeller shaft as the crewmember was on watch and conducting rounds. The crew member sustained life-threatening injuries and is permanently disfigured. Although the investigation of this casualty is not complete, initial observations serve to remind all vessel owner / operators, and crew members of the hazards onboard vessels of all types.

The Coast Guard strongly recommends that vessel owner/operators evaluate their vessels for the presence of moving, rotating, reciprocating or articulating machinery hazards, and implement documented common-sense policies, procedures and safety measures:

  • Never wear loose fitting clothing, jewelry or personal gear in the vicinity of such equipment;
  • Keep long hair tied back to avoid entanglement;
  • Install and maintain guards and protective equipment to prevent personnel contact;
  • Post appropriate hazard signs;
  • Never energize machinery unless certain that all personnel are well clear;
  • Follow proper lock-out tag-out procedures when working near or on such equipment, and ensure it has been verified that local or remote motor controls have been tagged-out or disabled and completely de-energized;
  • Develop procedural safeguards that eliminate, as far as practicable, personnel’s need to be in proximity to hazardous machinery when in operation;
  • Regularly conduct onboard safety training to emphasize safety procedures and the hazards of machinery, include deck and engine department, cargo equipment and tools
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