Safety Flashes released by the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) aim to summarise key marine safety matters and incidents, allowing wider dissemination of lessons learned from them. In the following report, information has been provided of a crewmember’s finger injury whilst casting off a towing line.

"A member has reported an incident in which a crewmember sustained a finger injury whilst trying to cast off a towing line," the notice states. "The crewmember was asked to cast the line off from a bollard on the forecastle deck of the vessel. The towing line was slackened sufficiently to allow the line to be removed from the bollard. When the crew person tried to lift the eye of the towing line, a sudden high swell pushed the vessel astern and the tow line came under tension."

The fingers of the crewmember’s left hand were consequently trapped between the towing line and the bollard. "The master responded immediately and caused the vessel to move ahead, causing the towing line tension to be released and releasing the trapped hand," the report continues. "The crew person suffered the loss of the middle fingernail and slight swelling on two fingers and was given first aid."

The IMCA have concluded that the following lessons can be drawn from the incident:
♦ Weather and sea conditions should be taken into account when undertaking a risk assessment;
♦ Good seamanship techniques should be followed: in this case the warping drum could have been used to take off the tension from the towing line. If a warping drum is not available for use then rope/chain stoppers should always be used while casting off mooring lines and towing lines.

Image courtesy of IMCA

As this incident arises the commercial sector, it is important for the superyacht sector to take not of this sector's culture of incident reporting. While much of the superyacht industry exists under a blanket of privacy, the commercial industry often uses incidents of this nature to share amongst colleagues so that important safety lessons can be learned. The full IMCA Safety Flash can be read here.