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At about 0830 on 8 July 2010, a crew member on board the multipurpose ship Cape Darnley was fatally injured following an explosion that occurred while he was attempting to cut the top off a 200 litre steel drum. When the oiler touched an angle grinder's spinning cutting disk onto the top of the drum, the heat generated ignited the vapours inside the drum. Once ignited, the rapid expansion of the vapour/air mixture resulted in the drum exploding.

The ATSB investigation found that an appropriate risk analysis was not undertaken and a hot work permit was not completed for the task.

The investigation also found that the oiler was not aware of the ship's work permit requirements or the risks associated with using an angle grinder to cut the top off a closed drum.

The ATSB acknowledges the safety actions taken by the ship's managers to address the two safety issues identified during the investigation.

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Safety issues

MO-2010-005-SI-01 - MO-2010-005-SI-02 -  

Dangers associated with use of grinder

The oiler’s actions indicate that he was not aware of the dangers associated with the use of an angle grinder to remove the top of the drum.

Safety issue details
Issue number:MO-2010-005-SI-01
Who it affects:All seafarers
Status:Adequately addressed


Knowledge of ship’s safety management system

The oiler’s actions indicate that he was likely not aware of the ship’s safety management system hot work permit requirements.

Safety issue details
Issue number:MO-2010-005-SI-02
Who it affects:All ship, owners, operators, managers and seafarers
Status:Adequately addressed

General details
Date: 08 July 2010 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 0830 (UTC+10)  
Location   (show map):at sea off Vavouto, New Caledonia Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: International Occurrence type: Fatality 
Release date: 17 February 2011  
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: Fatal 
Vessel details
Vessel: Cape Darnley 
Flag: Liberia 
IMO: 9231145 
Type of Operation: General cargo 
Damage to Vessel: Nil 
Departure point:Vavouto, New Caledonia
Destination:Brisbane, Qld
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Last update 20 August 2012