Marine Accident Investigation Branch Safety Digest 2/2005 Case 8
In Hot Water
The work included changing the circlips and “O” rings on the main engine rockers. Without gaining prior approval, the two men decided to remove an adjacent thermometer pocket in the engine’s cooling water system in order to ease access to the rockers.
As the pocket securing union was being removed from the pipe, the pressure in the system ejected the thermometer pocket, and hot water in excess of 75o C sprayed onto the men, badly scalding their legs.
The task that the men were given did not require the pocket to be removed; had they followed their instructions the accident would not have occurred. However, having made the decision to remove the component, neither of the motormen made any attempt to check the system conditions, or make the necessary isolations to ensure that the thermometer pocket was safe to remove.
Engineering staff are, of course, encouraged to use their initiative and to suggest improvements to procedures. Unfortunately, in this case little thought was given to the consequences of the motormen’s actions. Neither of them considered the risks involved in removing the thermometer pocket. Fortunately both men escaped serious injury.