UK MAIB Publish Report on Fatal Crush Incident on Scallop Dredger

The United Kingdom Marine Accident Investigation Branch has issued their report on the crush incident on board the scallop dredger Olivia Jean. The vessel’s engineer was fatally injured when he was struck on the head by a scallop dredge towing bar while working on deck.

The engineer had replaced two worn dredges on the starboard towing bar and stood clear as the skipper used the winch and derrick to raise and realign the dredge gear. During the process, the engineer forgot to remove one of the towing bar’s securing chains, and the dredge gear became snagged. Although the skipper had shouted instructions to the engineer to remain clear as he attempted to free the gear, the engineer stepped between the gear and the vessel’s accommodation and wheelhouse superstructure as the snagged bar released and swung inboard. The engineer suffered crush injuries to his head and was airlifted from the vessel and taken to hospital for emergency treatment. He died 12 days later.

The report identifies safety issues that include:

  • The deck operations at the time of the accident were not being properly supervised or controlled. The deck crew were working independently of each other and the skipper and engineer both became ‘task focused’ after things started to go wrong; neither had a full understanding of the situation as it developed.
  • Communication on board was adversely affected by a lack of a common language and a poor level of English language proficiency among the foreign crew.
  • The crew did not re-assess the risks of the work required when an unexpected problem had occurred.
  • The controls listed in the vessel’s risk assessments were not being followed. Had the crew been wearing head protection while working on deck during dredge gear lifting operations, the severity of the engineer’s head injuries might have been reduced.
  • The vessel’s safety management system was incomplete and was not being used or maintained on board.
  • The safety culture across the fleet was found to be weak.

Importance of safety management

The MAIB issued recommendations aimed at improving the safety management on board the owner’s fleet, encouraging the proper and effective use of a fishing safety management system, as recommended by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in its Marine Guidance Note 596 (F) – Fishing Safety Management Code: Helping to improve the management of safety on Fishing Vessels.

Sunderland Marine have published various resources on safety management, including:

See our Support, Safety and Training section on our website for more details.


Find out more

Read the MAIB report on the Olivia Jean here and the accompanying safety flyer to the fishing industry highlighting a number of the safety lessons.