Date (Y-M-D): 1981-12-31
Subject: Accidents when using Power Operated Watertight Doors
Recently a fatal accident occurred on board a Canadian vessel involving the closing of a power operated watertight door.
This accident occurred when a crew member was using the local controls to pass through the watertight doors which had been closed from the bridge control station; under these circumstances if the local control is released the door would automatically close with a force sufficient to crush anybody caught in its path. It is absolutely essential therefore that the local controls, which are provided on both sides of the bulkhead, are held in the "open" position while passing through the door and this is easily achieved by first opening the door using the nearside control with one hand, then reaching through the opening to the other control and maintaining the door open until transit is complete. A man by himself needs both hands to operate the controls and should never attempt to carry any load through unassisted. This procedure will be in agreement with the requirements of subsection 16 (5) of the Hull Construction Regulations.
Accidents of this type have been rare in Canada, but investigations of recent casualties in other countries indicate that unfamiliarity with, and consequent inattention to, operating instructions had probably been the prime cause. It would seem that the victims have not always followed the correct operating procedure but have opened the door and then attempted to pass through quickly while the door was closing, with the result that they have either slipped, or have allowed insufficient time to pass through, and have been consequently trapped by the door. When the door is closing an audible warning is given, during which time no attempt should be made to pass through the door.
Power operated watertight doors when properly operated do not constitute a hazard to the crew. Therefore, if further accidents are to be avoided it is essential that all crew members are well trained in the correct operating procedure and that permanent notices clearly stating the correct operating procedures are prominently displayed on both sides of each door. The crushing power of watertight doors must be fully appreciated by those using them; this power, together with expeditious closing, is necessary to ensure that their primary purpose is fulfilled.
In particularly noisy machinery spaces, when only one door closing warning bell has been fitted, it may be found that the bell cannot always be clearly heard on both sides of the open door. In such a case a bell (or other suitable audible signal) should be fitted on each side of, and adjacent to, the watertight door concerned.
All power operated watertight doors are designed to ensure maximum safety of the ship and to persons using them, but safe transit through a door which has been closed from the bridge control station requires that the operating instructions be strictly observed.
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