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A2B Future Source: Dutch Safety Board
A2B Future Source: Dutch Safety Board

Fatal accident during unloading in Moerdijk – Lessons learned from the accident on board the A2B Future

Status : Closed

On 30 December 2016, a crewmember from the Dutch container vessel A2B Future fell overboard. At that moment, the vessel was moored in the Central Dock in Moerdijk. The crewmember was in the process of unloading containers so they could be discharged from the vessel. While working, he fell overboard. The vessel’s second officer did not see the crewmember fall overboard, but did observe a person in the water who was struggling to remain afloat. Shortly afterwards the person no longer rose to the surface.

Immediately following the accident, a rescue operation was initiated with the assistance of various vessels and emergency services. The victim was found and removed from the water after around 50 minutes. He was taken to hospital, where he later died.

Absence of fall protection

No one exactly saw how the crew member in question was able to fall overboard on 30 December 2016. The fact is that due to the absence of any type of fall protection, he was able to fall from the hatch into the water. The crew member was not wearing a lifejacket and shortly after entering the water he was unable to independently remain afloat. On the day in question, the water temperature was around freezing. Due to a combination of hypothermia and injuries possibly caused by the fall, the victim eventually died in hospital. 

Prevent or limit

Correct preparation for a task requires the provision of adequate information and training. Working at height calls for clear procedures, and an understanding of the risks that can arise and the relevant protection measures. 

It is important to determine in advance where the priority should lie. Was it possible in this case to manage the risk of falling overboard or should the consequences of falling overboard have been limited?

Safety is a shared responsibility

The loading and unloading of containers is a very dynamic process. The dockside in the port is a physical dividing line between ship and shore. The captain is responsible for all work on board, while the terminal management is responsible for work on shore. However, responsibility for safety during the loading and unloading process cannot be split by a dock wall. This is all the more true if the employees from both parties are required to work together, in the process. In addition to a common vision on safe cooperation, it also calls for an overarching supervisory role and shared responsibility.

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