Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Administration
U.S. Department of Labor

Process: Shipfitting


Traumatic/Acute Injuries: Case History 1


A shipfitter was fairing the deck with fishtails at the time of the accident. He was using an air ratchet to tighten the fourth fishtail when the stud holding the first fishtail broke free. The bolt from the fishtail struck him high on the left side of his forehead causing a serious head injury. At the time of the accident, the shipfitter was not wearing his hard hat.

The shipfitter did not expect the stud holding the fishtail to fail. Even though the first fishtail took a great deal of torque to fair the deck, he was still able to attach two additional fishtails without a problem. It was only when he was cinching down the fourth one that the first fishtail failed.

yellow fishtail clamp viewed from above next to pipe chase
closeup photo of the base of a yellow fishtail clamp with welded fastening bolt
yellow fishtail clamp and wire next to pipe chase

Analysis and Preventive Measures

In this situation, several things could have prevented this accident. Shooting another stud on a piece of steel scrap might have improved the application of the first stud. The shipfitter could have put equal torque on all the studs to spread the load more evenly. The shipfitter's injury also could have been prevented if he had been wearing his hard hat.

Maintaining employee awareness of workplace safety requirements, such as using PPE (hard hats and safety glasses) at all times, and the possible consequences of the sudden release of potential energy is very important in reducing the risk of injury. This can be accomplished through training, periodic safety talks and posters.

safety flyer: work safe, expect the unexpected


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