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Stevedoring Safety Procedure For Oceangoing Containerships- How to Deal with Stevedore Injuries?

The term “stevedore” is defined as “a person employed, or a contractor engaged, at a dock to load and unload cargo from ships”. In the United States, the term stevedore refers to the company that contracts with the shipowner, charterers, and/or terminal to load or discharge the cargo. Stevedoring companies typically own equipment used for the loading or discharge operation and hire longshoremen who load and unload cargo. In many parts of the world, the term stevedore is often used to describe both the contractor and longshore labor.

containerships operational matters
Oil Tanker Safety Guide
A stevedoring company, in addition to providing cargo handling services, may also contract with terminal owners to manage all terminal operations. Many large container ship operators have established in-house stevedoring operations to handle cargo at their terminals and to provide stevedoring services to other container carriers.

Of course, cranes and other equipment must be available for purposes of loading and discharging the cargo. The larger and highly specialized vessels such as large bulk carriers and container ships rely upon shore side gear. Smaller vessels tend to be “geared”, meaning cargo handling gear is fixed aboard the ship.Oil tankers depend upon shore side pumps to pump the cargo onboard the vessel and shipboard pumps to discharge.

stevedore working with container lashings
Stevedore working with container lashings

Responsibility for the payment of stevedoring services depends upon the underlying contract of carriage. The general rule is that the shipowners have to pay the cost of loading and discharging the cargo. This is typical, for example when cargo is being carried under a liner bill of lading. This is referred to as liner terms. Liner terms have a similar meaning to “gross terms”. However, gross terms refer to the ship owner’s responsibility to arrange and pay for stevedoring in the bulk cargo and tramp trades whereas liner terms generally relate to liner trades. Nevertheless, the parties to the contract of the carriage often agree to vary the usual practice – thus requiring the charterers to arrange and pay for loading and discharge. For example, the charter party expression “free in and out” means that it is the responsibility of the voyage charterers to load and discharge the cargo (cargo handling is “free of expense to the ship owners”).

However, this expression may leave some doubt as to whether the cost of trimming or stowing the cargo, once loaded on board the vessel, is for voyage charterer’s expense. To eliminate any misunderstanding the charter party may include language such as: “Free in and out, stowed and trimmed” or “Loaded, stowed, trimmed and discharged free of expense to the vessel”. The bottom line is that seaports connect the parts of the supply and transport chain. Cargo arrives and departs via rail, truck, barge, and other means so that door to door transport can be provided to cargo customers. Ports, terminals, ships, and stevedoring operations are a vital part of the global logistics chain.

How to deal with stevedores injury?

Container vessel stevedoring operation involves many complexities and careful consideration will need to be made for the safe operation of her business. It is the responsibility of the ship to take necessary measures to eliminate any potential danger in the working circumstances. The procedures explained here are only indicative, not exhaustive and one must always be guided by practices of good seamanship.

Measures to protect the vessel side against stevedores injury
  1. Check Item Before Cargo Operation : The Chief Officer shall inspect working areas and all cargo handling equipment to ensure the safety of personnel. All working areas and accesses must be checked to be clear of any slippery matter and obstructions, be structurally sound, and well lit before stevedores come on board. Enter the results of the inspection in the Deck Log Book. The Chief Officer shall request the responsible stevedoring person to sign the form “Stevedore Accident Notice Request” before the start of cargo handling operation, and also advise him to bring any incident, howsoever small, to the notice of the ship’s officer.

  2. Caution During Cargo Operation: The crew member on duty shall take necessary measures to eliminate any potential danger in the working circumstances. On noticing any oil, grease, or other slippery material anywhere he must wipe it off immediately and report the same to the Duty Officer. The crew member on duty shall monitor the cargo handling operation, and warn the stevedore foreman of potential dangers and take further actions as required to prevent any injuries to personnel. It is recommended that any unsafe practice noted by ship staff, if not corrected immediately be brought to the notice of stevedores by a written statement and signed by the responsible stevedoring person.

  3. Lashing areas: Ships should be arranged to enable safe application and inspection of container lashings. Work areas should be of adequate dimensions, free from trip hazards, provided with fall protection, and with adequate lighting. Transit areas should be free from obstructions and trip hazards. They should have adequate headroom, lighting, and non-slip walkways. The main working positions are between stacks, on lashing bridges, outboard, and on hatch cover ends. A risk assessment of working positions should be arranged to identify hazards and to enable corrective action. When completing these assessments, the following requirements for safety during the application of lashings should be considered.

Initial Response To Stevedores Accident

Anyone who has discovered or has reported a stevedore injury (including line handling men) shall notify the Duty Officer, and the following measures shall be taken:
Confirming and Preserving the Scene of the Stevedores Accident

Dangers To Personnel : All personnel and particularly stevedores working, new personnel, visitors, superintendents, and passengers must be made aware of the dangers of passing under containers and moving in the cargo working areas. The dangers of lashing equipment being released or removed are to be stressed. Attention to the relevant sections of the Code of Safe Working Practices for Merchant Seamen.

Hazard-Free Walkways : The Officer of the Watch should ensure that the deck side walkways are kept free from oil, grease, and lashing equipment and maintained clear of these hazards.

The confirmation of the conditions on the scene of the accident shall be carried out as soon as possible by completing the “Statement of Facts“, and every effort made to preserve the scene until a P&I representative arrives. Through confirmation of the conditions on the scene shall preferably be made with a responsible stevedoring witness, the vessel shall take all initial steps to secure as much information as possible.
Measures to protect the vessel side against stevedores injury - Use Of P&I Attorney

The Master shall arrange the P&I attorney through the agent, or contact the local P&I correspondent directly, in case he can not contact the agent for some reasons. The P&I representative shall be notified in all injury cases regardless of the extent of the accident. The Master shall confirm the identity of the P&I attorney who has come onboard before answering any questions. Access to the vessel by a lawyer representing the injured shall be denied unless the P&I representative agrees. The Master shall only answer questions from the competent authorities.

Preservation of Evidence: Documentation and evidence related to the accident shall be carefully kept at a safe place on board, respecting any recommendation given by the P&I representative.

Responsibility For Stevedores :

While the primary responsibility for stevedores rests with the stevedoring company, the shipowner may be held liable should due care not be exercised and any accident subsequently occurs on the vessel. Accordingly, the Master and deck officers have a responsibility to ensure that the following points are always addressed:
  1. Duty of Condition: The vessel must exercise ordinary care under the circumstances to have the ship and its equipment in such a condition that an expert and experienced stevedore will be able, by the exercise of reasonable care, to carry on its cargo operations with reasonable safety to persons and property.

  2. Duty to Warn: The vessel must warn the stevedore of any hazards on the ship, or concerning her equipment, that is known to the vessel or should have been known in the exercise of reasonable care, that would likely be encountered by the stevedore in the course of his cargo operations and that are not known by the stevedore and would not be obvious to or anticipated by him if reasonably competent in the performance of his work.

  3. Active Involvement Duty: The vessel may be liable if it actively involves itself in the cargo operations and negligently injures a stevedore.

  4. Active Control Duty: The vessel may be liable if it fails to actively exercise due care to avoid exposing stevedores to harm from hazards that they may encounter in areas, or from equipment, under the active control of the vessel during the stevedore operation, such as the gangway.

  5. Duty to Intervene: If a stevedore’s judgment is improvident if the ship knew of the defect in the equipment, and the stevedore continues to use the defective equipment, and the ship should have realized that the use of the defective equipment presented an unreasonable risk of harm, the vessel must intervene and have the equipment repaired.

    The above points are extracted in part from United States law, however, are valid for all countries and should be adopted as good practice regardless of where the vessel is trading. Besides, the following points are to be considered as best practice and are also to be followed:

  6. Inspect and test any equipment that is to be used by stevedores before use and make a log entry.

  7. The officer of the watch must perform frequent rounds of the vessel during cargo operations looking out for any new hazards or unsafe operations. Notes should be taken and recorded in the deck log where applicable. A digital camera should be carried to take any photographic evidence of anything amiss.

  8. As per the procedures contained in the Ship Security Plan, an alert and well-trained gangway watch must be maintained and notes made of any unusual activity as well as reporting same to the officer of the watch. The gangway log must be properly maintained that records all names and company of persons coming on board and leaving the vessel.

  9. If any dangerous working practices by the stevedores are noticed, then the stevedoring company must be notified, directly if possible, or through the agent.

  10. In any circumstances where a stevedore suffers or allegedly suffers an accident or injury while onboard, the incident must be reported immediately to the company and the local P&I representative so that steps can be taken to protect the interests of the vessel and her crew and mitigate any potential losses. This should certainly be done before the ship sailing and before any crew change takes place.

Measures to protect the vessel side against stevedores injury - Confirmation Statement

The Master shall prepare a statement of fact in which necessary matters are written referring to the attached form, obtain the signature of the responsible stevedoring person and agent, and hand over copies to them and the P&I representative.

Handling Personal Injury Report from the Other Party

When the Master is demanded to receive and to sign an injury report from an injured person or a stevedore company, and if the contents of the report are different from the facts confirmed by the vessel, or if the report indicates that the vessel is responsible, the vessel shall reject the receipt of the report.

Note: If for any reason, the Master cannot reject the receipt of a report, the following sentence shall be added to the report to clarify that signing and receiving it does not imply any admission of liability of the vessel side written in the report.
I received your Injury Report without prejudice; or
This signature does not mean any admission of liability.

Recording And Reporting

The Master shall enter the fact of the accident, the name and contact details of any eyewitnesses, and other necessary matters in the deck logbook, and it shall be approved by the P&I attorney when he visits the vessel.

Preparation of Master’s Report

The Master shall prepare the Master’s Report in which the following matters shall be described in detail as far as possible, and send it to the Company:
  1. The outline of the accident
  2. (Including the cause of the accident and measures taken after it happened);
  3. Eyewitnesses (If an Eyewitness is present, enter his name, age, profession, address, etc. regardless of whether the crew of the vessel or a stevedore);
  4. Condition of the working circumstances and the results of the inspection of cargo handling equipment before the commencement of cargo operation
  5. (The date and time, name of officer and items that were inspected);
  6. The actual working circumstances;
  7. Any safety warning that was given to the stevedores;
  8. The name and title of the persons that the vessel contacted after the accident (The Agent, P&I, Stevedore, etc.);
  9. The maintenance record of the cargo handling equipment and other gear (If applicable) in use;
  10. Extracts of the Deck Log Book
  11. (Entries related to the accident and inspection before work);
  12. Copies of any statement of facts exchanged between the parties;
  13. Sketches and photographs of the scene, etc.
Handling an accident which notified to the vessel just before departure

If the vessel is notified of an injury of a stevedore just before departure or when there is no time to await the arrival of the P&I representative, all possible measures shall be taken before departure. As a minimum, the Master shall carry out the following before leaving port:

Further reading:

Caution During Cargo Operation To Prevent Stevedores Accident

How to Deal with Hull Damages by Stevedores

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Our additional pages contain somewhat larger lists of resources where you can find useful informations

  1. Containership operation : Cargo Securing
    There are six degrees of motion at sea that a ship may have to encounter in a voyage. However, pitching, heaving, and rolling are three major forces that impact most on a containership's lashing arrangement. Lateral rolling motion factors the greatest challenge for piles of containers. If containers are to be carried safely on the deck of a container vessel, they must be tightly connected to the ship. It is done with the aid of devices known as twist locks. .....

  2. Containership operation : Common reasons for stowfall
    Container stows often fail due to container stacks being too heavy and too high overall, exposing the lower containers to excessive transverse racking and compressive forces due to the tipping effect. Such an anomaly may occur if the ship is unable to calculate the forces acting on stow with precision. The Cargo/Container Securing Manual is limited in this respect as the examples of container weight distributions shown may not cover all permutations and eventualities. Software programs have the advantage of taking into account all known variables........

  3. Containership operation: Cargo hold ventilation
    Cargo holds ventilation onboard a containership is very important as it minimizes the risk of harm or damage to cargo. A proper ventilation system assures the quality of the transported goods by preventing the formation of condensation in cargo spaces, reducing the harmful heating of the shipment, and removing potential hazardous gases from cargo spaces........

  4. Containership operation: Safety of personnel
    In port stevedores board the vessel for lashing, unlashing and cargo operations and their safety whilst on board is the vessels responsibility. It is important to understand that any injury caused to stevedores or shore personnel due to a condition on board being unsafe, can result in very large claims to the vessel. .....

  5. Containership operation: wet damage in cargo hold
    When water entered into a ship's cargo, hold it may cause wet damage to the cargo inside containers especially to those stowed on the bottom stack, unless the bilge water is drained in a proper and swift manner. The regular sounding of bilge well or monitoring bilge alarm must be one of the very important or rather essential routine jobs on board. However, this job requires special attention on board. All bilge alarm need to be tested regularly......

  6. Reefer cargo care at sea
    Unlike permanent cold stores or refrigerated ships, where robust equipment is under constant care by qualified personnel, the ISO refrigerated container may travel by several different modes and be in the care of many and varied people. Before being despatched to load refrigerated cargo (usually at shippers' premises), the container and its machinery should be subjected to a rigorous examination.......

  7. Containership cargo stowage and planning
    Master and officers of all vessels require a good working knowledge of the various kinds of cargo they are likely to carry their peculiar characteristics, liability to damage, decay, or deterioration, their measurement, and the usual methods of packing, loading and discharging, stowage, dunnage, etc., as the Master is responsible for the safe loading of his vessel and the proper storage of the cargo......

  8. Stacking Weights Restrictions
    rior loading cargo, stacking weights of containers must be checked against the allowable stack weights on board the vessel both on deck and under deck. Neglecting above may cause serious damage to ships structure, hull and eventually overall stabilty of ship may get affected. Maximum allowable stack weights of Tank tops, Hatch covers and Decks shall not be exceeded at any time......

  9. Lashing strength calculation
    Lashing strength of deck cargo shall be ascertained by using the appropriate lashing strength calculation software where provided. All resulting values for lashing strength must be within the tolerance limits prescribed by the vessels classification society......

  10. Dangerous goods stowage and segregation
    Clear guidelines apply to the stowage and segregation of Dangerous Goods and in some cases may require particular commodities to be carried in completely separate holds. The interaction of two cargoes will not occur if the packaging of that cargo remains intact. However, the Master must always consider the possible effect should the cargo escape for any reason and should not restrict his consideration to those cargoes which are listed in the IMDG Code......

  11. Reefer Container Stowage
    Reefer containers proposed for stowage must be accompanied by a reefer manifest. This reefer manifest should contain Container No., Stow position, Commodity, Temperature, and Ventilation status......

  12. Out of Gauge Container Stowage
    It is essential that, during out of gauge cargo operations, a careful watch is kept for any damage caused to the vessel, her equipment, or to containers. Notice of any damage must be immediately brought to the attention of the Stevedore's representative, the Port Captain/Supercargo and Charterers Agent. Damage reports must be completed in all cases giving the full and comprehensive details of damage caused......

  13. Special Container Stowage
    After receiving stowage plan ships, Chief Officer must ensure that all Deck Officers are aware of any specialized containers due to be worked, such as reefers, vents, over-heights, over-widths, flat racks, etc. and their unique requirements.....

  14. 20 or 40 or 45 feet Compulsory Stowage Locations
    Most cargo securing manual provide a guideline for different container types. These stow positions of 20 feet,40 feet, or 45 feet are also incorporated in a ship-specific stowage planning software and highlight errors if any violations occur......

  15. Irregular Stowage of Containers
    The Terminal Planner shall present the pre-loading plan to the Chief Officer to obtain his approval/comments. The Chief Officer, in turn, enters the cargo data in the loading computer and must ensure that the required criteria, concerning stack weights, trim/stability/stresses/ visibility limitations, DG cargo segregation, and specialized container requirements, are met. He should allow the bunker/freshwater consumption during the voyage and all possibilities of ballasting / deballasting. The completed loading plan must be presented to the ship's Master for approval.....

  16. Over-stow of Containers
    With a closed roof, the hardtop the container offers the same reliable protection as provided by a standard box. Hardtop containers have more lashing points than other container types. This guaran- tees reliable and convenient securing of cargo. .....

  17. Hatch Cover Clearance (High cube containers Under Deck )
    Hatch cover clearance must be checked carefully in case of loading over height containers or high cube containers underdeck......

  18. Other matters regarding cargo stowage as necessary
    Bulk products carried in a closed container might include malt, grain, seed, polythene granules, chemically inert powders, brake fluid, detergent, fruit juice, wine, non-hazardous oils, sodium silicate, fatty acids and maple syrup amongst many others......

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