Working on docks assisting with the mooring of ships is a dangerous and potentially fatal area to work within the industry. Statistics from the European Harbour Masters’ Committee show that 95% of personal injury incidents are caused by ropes and wires, with 60% of these injuries happening during mooring operations.

To minimise the risk of these incidents occurring, the condition of mooring lines, ensuring crew are standing in the correct locations, and crew training, are some methods which can be used. These guidelines are summarised and presented to those working within the industry in the form of Mooring Equipment Guidelines (MEG). The latest of these MEG4 were announced in 2018 alongside a Mooring System Management Plan (MSMP) for tankers.

During the webinar Captain Steve Blair, managing director of maritime management systems consultancy Epic Marine Services, board advisor to OceanManager Inc, and Stylianos I. Dimas, commercial director of OceanManager Inc, discussed the incidents which take place on docks as well as how their software can simplify the management of mooring systems.


Danger on the docks

One of the primary reasons for dock injuries – and in some cases fatalities – are mooring lines. Many of these incidents see what is referred to as ‘snap back’ occurring, a process in which a sudden release of energy causes the two ends of the line to recoil or ‘snap back’ with high speed and force – causing individuals within the proximity to be struck by pieces of line.

Throughout the years many such mooring line incidents have occurred, leaving individuals with serious injuries, from these accidents 14% have led to fatalities.

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Alongside this, injuries can occur from individuals being hit by parting ropes, equipment being old and faulty or the wash of other ships passing by causing mooring ropes which have not been correctly tied to snap off.

During the webinar a graph was presented detailing the location of injuries experienced by individuals in terms of body location. Data shows that foot, thigh, ankle, and wrist sat at 1%. Face, chest, hand, and shoulder at 3%, with the two main areas of reported injury being legs, which was reported at 23% – this is primarily due to mooring lines and equipment being leg height when snapping back – followed by back injuries which is at 14%.

One way in which the frequency and severity of these injuries can be reduced is via the training of dockworkers, especially when it comes to ‘snap back zones’. Traditionally these are areas along the dock which are painted with yellow and black hazard stripes, alerting individuals of the danger zones.

However, these areas provide a false sense of security for those working on the docks, Captain Steve Blair says: “It’s pretty difficult to identify which are snap back areas and which areas snap back applies to. The consensus within MEG4, and in the industry, is saying that the whole area of where the mooring operation takes place is at risk of snap back. Marking snap back danger zones tends to create a false sense of safety for personnel that are standing outside the marks.”

The new guidelines

The introduction of the new MEG4 guidelines have seen enhanced guidance for the purchasing condition, monitoring and retiring of mooring lines, as well as in depth guidance on documentation of mooring equipment to ensure correct certification is presented by the manufacturers of the mooring ropes.

Human factors have also been considered within the guidelines which look at the design of new vessels to ensure that they can be operated and moored safely and correctly.

A new chapter which has been introduced within these guidelines is jetty fittings, which focuses on which jetty fittings are present and how mooring lines attach to the jetty when the vessel is being moored.

Blair commented on these new sections: “There’s a new chapter on ship shore interface and a chapter on alternative technologies. The new guidelines require each vessel to have an adequate mooring system management plan, and line management plan. The guidance within MEG4 will enhance the safety of mooring from the design of mooring arrangements.”

“The industry is moving in the general direction of enhancing the safety of mooring operations onboard and improving the safety of our seafarers onboard.”

“At the end of the day this is all related to human factors and ensuring that the incident onboard vessel from moorings operations, are reduced or removed. The industry is moving in the general direction of enhancing the safety of mooring operations onboard and improving the safety of our seafarers onboard.”


Assistance from OceanManager Inc.

To make these guidelines and regulations simple to access and stay on top of, OceanManager Inc. have developed a software tool which allows those working in the industry to update and monitor mooring equipment observations, inspections and running hours.

By using the cloud-based app, individuals working with the industry can access real-time data and insight, monitor vessel performance within the app without masses of paperwork, access voyage data, update vessel audits and access data regarding vessel performance and efficiency.

Blair commented on the software’s document filing process, reducing the need for paperwork: “This is one of the main benefits of what OceanManager does, it allows individuals to keep all the records and documentation required by the mooring system management plan in one place, rather than have different files on different locations around the vessel.”

“It’s easy to share information between the ship and the shore, rather than having to send documentation back and forth. You can also see the line management plan, you can manage the operation and retirement of mooring lines.”

Alongside the ease of accessing and sharing documentation, the app also allows crew members to be assigned to inspections of equipment such as mooring lines. This management plan allows photographs to be included of the inspection, which can be filed and monitored to show the vessel is staying up to date with the assessment criteria.

When it came to the design of the software, simplicity was key for the company to ensure ease of use and management of equipment and documents. Stylianos I. Dimas commented: “If some information is lost you don’t have a local database to worry about, everything is hosted on the cloud. The configuration of the system has a very easy to use, clean interface.”

“There has been software within the industry for years, but it ended up becoming over complicated and people don’t like to use them. So, with our software, we’re taking a different approach, back to simplicity, just sticking to the information that matters and everyone is happy to use the system.”