Marine safety issues and actions

Stability of aluminium ingot lifts

Issue number: MO-2012-010-SI-01
Who it affects: Cargo handling companies and their employees
Issue owner: Patrick Ports and Stevedoring (Patrick) and Gearbulk Norway (Gearbulk)
Transport function: Marine: Shore-based operations
Background: Investigation Report 296-MO-2012-010
Issue release date: 04 June 2013
Current issue status: Partially addressed
Issue status justification: Action taken partially addresses the stability issue. The risk was minor and is further reduced.

Safety issue description

The aluminium ingot lifts in Newcastle, comprising multiple stacks of ingot packs strapped together, with an effective height to width ratio of 5:1 were inherently unstable. Furthermore, handling and stowage of ingot lifts involved the risk of a lift being disturbed and one or more of its packs falling or toppling because the lifting and other straps were not designed to restrain the packs as a single homogenous cargo unit and were prone to failure.

Proactive Action

Action number: MO-2012-010-NSA-005
Action organisation: Patrick Ports and Stevedoring
Date: 04 June 2013
Action status: Closed

Patrick Ports and Stevedoring (Patrick) advised the ATSB that additional strapping is now being used to restrain each column of two adjacent ingot stacks. This is done by putting an additional strap around each two stack column (that is, one strap holds four 1 tonne ingot packs). Therefore, a 20 tonne lift has five additional straps and a 24 tonne lift has six additional straps.

According to Patrick, the additional straps stop the internal spread in each column by binding two stacks together, and reduce both the internal spread of each ingot pack and the risk of the top packs toppling out of the lift. The overall stability of the lift also improves (since the two stack columns are wider and, as a result, have a smaller height to width ratio).

Patrick also advised that it is continuing to look at the stability of unitised aluminium ingot packs and other ways to enhance their stability. The company will continue to consult key stakeholders, including Patrick employees, in this ongoing review of the stability of the ingot lifts.

Proactive Action

Action number: MO-2012-010-NSA-006
Action organisation: Gearbulk Norway
Date: 04 June 2013
Action status: Closed

Gearbulk Norway (Gearbulk) advised the ATSB that it recognises this investigation report as an important document to improve safety during loading operations. Gearbulk noted that it has a committed safety first culture both on ships and ashore but considers that there should be no boundaries in developing an even safer working environment. The company advised that it will continue to enforce best safe practice in all operations and will focus on cargo operations with particular reference to safety in the hold.

Gearbulk advised that the safety of personnel, ship and environment, and cargo are among the subjects discussed at the daily meetings between senior ship staff and stevedores in all ports. The company will include toppling of cargo as a specific item during these meetings and will reinforce the concept of safe areas in the hold. It has also decided to reject any ingot lifts with broken bundle, lifting or unitising straps.

Last update 08 January 2014