News release

Crane failure led to April 2016 fatal accident aboard small aquaculture vessel near Milligan’s Wharf, Prince Edward Island

Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, 9 August 2017 – Today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) issued its investigation report (M16A0115) into the April 2016 crane failure and fatality aboard a small aquaculture vessel near Milligan's Wharf, Prince Edward Island.

On 29 April 2016, at approximately 1035 Atlantic Daylight Time, a small aquaculture vessel, with the operator and the deckhand on board, was performing spring maintenance of oyster growing cages one nautical mile east of Milligan's Wharf, Prince Edward Island. The operator was working over the side of the vessel, underneath the elevated boom of the crane, to untangle a securing line attached to a floating oyster cage. The crane failed when the piston rod fractured, and the boom and attached rigging struck and fatally injured the operator.

The investigation determined that the design of the crane was flawed, not allowing for full extension of the piston rod when the crane boom was fully raised. The piston rod was therefore making contact with the hose guards when extending, subjecting it to side loading and forcing it to bend. After bending on several occasions, the material was no longer able to sustain the bending stress, and the rod fractured.

The investigation determined that the crew and the company owners had not detected the design flaw within the few weeks that the crane was in service, nor was the crew conducting a thorough visual inspection of the crane before each voyage. If there are no standards for the design and construction of lifting appliances on small fishing vessels, there is an increased risk that unsafe lifting appliances will be constructed and installed. Also, if lifting appliances installed on fishing vessels are not inspected by either Transport Canada or an authorized representative, defects in those appliances that pose a hazard may go undetected.

The investigation also found that there were no lifejackets carried on board the vessel as required by regulation. If fishermen do not wear personal flotation devices (PFDs) or lifejackets while working on deck, despite industry awareness initiatives promoting their use, there is an increased risk that fishermen will not survive in the event that they fall overboard. Although the absence of PFDs did not play a direct role in this occurrence, this persistent risk has been identified in other TSB investigations. Consequently, the Board has recommended that Transport Canada, British Columbia, and New Brunswick require crews on fishing vessels to wear suitable PFDs at all times on deck and that they develop ways to confirm compliance (Recommendations M16-04, M16-05 and M17-04).

A number of risks related to onboard risk management, highlighted in the investigation, are also identified in a TSB safety issues investigation (SII) into fishing safety that was published in 2012.

Commercial fishing safety is a TSB Watchlist issue as it is recognized nationwide that the loss of life on fishing vessels is simply too great.

See the investigation page for more information.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates air, marine, pipeline, and rail transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

For more information, contact:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Media Relations
Telephone: 819-994-8053

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