Worker was exposed to being struck by a container that was knocked off a ship during cargo handling.


Container cranes lift containers from truck chassis and load them onto a ship. Once the container is placed on the ship it is released from the container spreader.

Activity at time of incident:

A container crane was loading containers onto a ship.

Incident Description


A worker was a member of a lashing gang who had departed the vessel. The gang was using the walkway between the bull rail and the crane tracks. A container crane was loading containers onto the ship.


The container crane operator placed a container on a vessel hatch cover and the container was locked to the deck fittings on the hatch cover. The operator did not release the container from the container spreader and mistakenly lifted the container. Since the hatch cover was not locked down, lifting the attached container caused the hatch cover to lift and tilt. The tilted hatch cover, which held additional containers, caused one of the containers to fall from the vessel to the dock below which struck and killed the worker on the dock.

Relevant Factors:

The container that was placed by the crane operator was not properly released. The hatch cover was not locked down.

Applicable Standards and Control Measures

  • 29 CFR 1918.98(a)(1): Only an employee determined by the employer to be competent by reason of training or experience, and who understands the signs, notices and operating instructions and is familiar with the signal code in use, shall be permitted to operate a crane, winch, or other power-operated cargo handling apparatus, or any power-operated vehicle, or give signals to the operator of any hoisting apparatus. However, an employee being trained and supervised by a designated person may operate such machinery and give signals to operators during training.

Control Measures

These hazards could have been prevented if the driver:

  • Ensuring that the hatch covers were locked down.
  • Ensuring that the crane operators and signal persons were properly trained.

For more information See Video #4 - Longshore worker killed by container falling from ship (www.nmsa.us)