Inquiry into crewman’s death calls for work systems review by P&O

Man was crushed during loading of trailers on vessel at Dublin Port in June 2017

An inquiry into the death of a crewman on board a P&O ferry in Dublin Port last year has called on the company to review how it handles trailer cargo and applies its drug and alcohol policy.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) inquiry into the death on the MV European Endeavour on June 22nd, 2017, found the man died of injuries sustained when he was crushed while loading unaccompanied trailers on to the vessel ahead of a voyage from Dublin to Liverpool.

The loading involved using a tractor unit or “Tugmaster” to pull 40ft trailers on to the vessel, which were then secured.

The report says that at about 1.25pm one of the crew working on an upper cargo deck was found at the rear of a trailer. He was given first aid and taken to hospital by ambulance, where attempts were made to resuscitate him. However, he was pronounced dead within the hour.


The report notes that there were no witnesses to the event that caused the man’s death.

The report notes that under the system used to load unaccompanied trailer units, the driver of the tug could not see the crewman guiding him into position, and the crew “rely on whistles by the guide to alert drivers to any issue”.

“During this incident the driver did not have sight of the guide and the whistle system was not effective, either because no whistle was heard or the guide was not in a position to blow the whistle,” the report says.

‘Experienced seafarer’

“Something caused the casualty, an experienced seafarer, to move behind the load he was directing into place,” it says. “As a consequence the casualty was crushed and died from his injuries.”

The board noted a coroner’s report stating that there was a significant level of ethanol or alcohol in the dead man’s blood, which exceeded a standard set in an international seafarers’ safety convention. However, it said it was not possible to gauge the impact of this on the situation.

The inquiry recommended that the company review “the application and enforcement of its drug and alcohol policy to ensure that it is fit for purpose”.

Correspondence received by the MCIB from a legal representative acting on behalf of the deceased questioned the safety of the work system, including the use of whistles, which it refers to as “Victorian”, and also the finding in relation to alcohol levels.

The report notes that the vessel operated a training regime provided by the company, and there were regular meetings where safety issues were discussed.

Correspondence from P&O to the MCIB said the company has undertaken a review of work systems with the Health and Safety Authority “as recommended in light of the incident”.

The company also states that it has reviewed its drugs and alcohol policy, which includes random testing of staff.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times