Electrical Hand Tools. Their use onboard!

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Over the last few years there have been a number of incidents involving electric powered hand tools onboard which have resulted in everything from minor injuries to loss of life.

The use of power tools onboard should be well monitored to ensure the safety of the user and all other persons onboard.

In one incident a young deckhand was using a grinder ended up costing him his life and in another a crew member was lucky to survive when the power socket fell into water causing serious electrical shock.

Another serious incident resulted in loss of life while using a grinder when doing maintenance ashore. While not onboard a vessel at sea it highlights just how dangerous power tools can be.

How can injuries be prevented?

It’s not realistic to think that all incidents can be prevented because accidents do happen at times and that’s a fact!

To reduce the potential for accident to happen safety has to come first: at all times!

This means being fully aware of a number of factors including but not limited to:

  • Identifying the right tool for the job at hand
  • Where power tools are being used (on deck, in the engine room, etc.)
  • The surrounding environment (wet decks, fuel nearby, etc.)
  • Power leads
  • Appropriate PPE

This is a short list of things to consider before using any power tools.

Potential lifesaving failures!

On a number of vessels I’ve observed some simple but potential lifesaving failures that have either been ignored or overlooked. They are…

  1. Vessels with onboard electrical supply are required to have a Residual Current Device (RCD) installed which provides a fast power cut- off in problem situations. A number of vessels didn’t have these fitted putting everyone onboard in danger!

Electrical hazards are often hidden and can be difficult to identify, such as a small hole in an extension lead or a power board damaged internally. Electrical accidents occur in an instant and RCDs are the only device that can protect you and your crew from these hidden dangers and give you a second chance.