Safety alert 15/2009 - Deck-hand injury

This publication is for: 
Employee / workerEmployer

During the process of a vessel coming alongside a wharf to dock, the vessel’s skipper was unable to stop the forward motion of the vessel while under power due to a fault with the engine hydraulic control system.

The deck supervisor attempted to restrict the forward motion of the vessel by paying-out the forward mooring line through the forward H - shaped bollards. The outboard end of the line was secured to a wharf bollard. While the deck supervisor was letting out the mooring line, it wrapped around his foot and dragged his leg into the lower sections of the bollard, removing his left foot.

Factors to consider

The contributing factors to the incident were; 

  • Faults in the ship’s engine directional control systems were not identified prior to the incident. 
  • Only persons qualified at the level of ship’s master, Master class 4, receive training procedures in docking processes (mooring processes).
  • The deck supervisor had received induction and buddy system training for the role as deck supervisor, but had not received specific training in mooring processes.
  • Skippers in control of vessels cannot manage the mooring processes, and must ensure deck crew understand the proposed docking procedures.
  • Mooring lines need to be laid out on the deck to prevent the rope uncoiling in a manner that poses a hazard to the deck-hand.


The employer must ensure plant, systems and information and training is provided to enable employees to perform tasks in such a manner that they are not exposed to hazards by:

  • Deck-hands who are required to handle mooring lines when berthing a vessel are to be provided with competency training in safe mooring procedures.
  • Ensure mooring lines are flaked out to run smoothly through the bollards to prevent being caught in the rope coils.

Further information

  • Task training provided in the vessel skipper’s master’s certificate
  • National Training performance criteria of the TDM (Transport & Distribution. Maritime).

Further information can be obtained from WorkSafe’s website or by contacting customer service on 1300 307 877 or email

This Alert contains safety information following inquiries made by WorkSafe about an incident or unsafe practice. The information contained in this Alert does not necessarily include the outcome of WorkSafe’s action with respect to an incident.  WorkSafe does not warrant the information in this Alert is complete or up to date and does not accept any liability to any person for the information in this report or as to its use.

Last updated 29 Jun 2017

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