Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Stop Work Authority

Stop Work Authority is all the rage out here. I have a sense that it was implemented by the majors – maybe after the BP blowout -- and has trickled-down through the industry. Many boat companies, including the one I work for, also now have formal Stop Work Authority policies.

What it means, basically, is that anyone not only may, but is obligated to, call a halt to any operation immediately if he or she sees something potentially unsafe occurring or about to occur.

I used it earlier this week.

Friday night I woke up and thought: “Man, it’s awfully calm. It’s too calm. Wonder what’s going on?”

I stepped out on deck and discovered we were at the dock with a massive engine bound to our deck. When I say “massive,” I mean locomotive-sized.

A few minutes later, the other captain on board fired-up the engines, I relieved him and we headed back down the river.

When we arrived at the platform to which we were delivering the compressor motor early Saturday morning, I was quietly pleased to see the new deckhand carefully inspecting each shackle and sling on the manufacturer-supplied rigging.

Until he tugged on one cable, and it snapped taught, crushing his hand between the wire and the engine. Because there was a 150-pound spreader bar on the other side of the engine, he was stuck until I could run down and take the tension off.

Ice, sodium naproxen and a rest break followed while the swing man took over rigger duties on the back deck. After completing a JSA and running through the job with the crane operator on the platform we were all set to offload the beast.

When the crane began hoisting, it was clear that one of the legs of the rigging was tangled around the spreader bar; must have happened when the dock crane set it down. It was also clear that one deckhand could not, by himself, re-rig the lift. That’s when I stopped work, and the platform sent down an additional rigger to help-out.

Turns out whoever originally rigged the engine also had the spreader bar backwards (small end toward the flywheel, for your future reference). We eventually got it all straightened-out, had a good team-building exercise and got to chat face-to-face with one of the guys we supply weekly.

We also got a “Wonderful job, cap. Thank you,” from the platform. That’s always nice.

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