The sheriff rules that the death of a Croat crushed between two ships could have been avoided

An Aberdeen sheriff has discovered that the death of a Croat who died at sea while trying to paint a ship could have been avoided if proper safety measures had been taken.

Pjero Kurida had been employed on an offshore supply vessel, the Athina, then owned by ER Offshore GmbH. He died in hospital on June 10, 2012 after being crushed between the Athina and another ship in the North Sea. He suffered chest and abdominal injuries from the crash that ultimately led to his death.

The investigation into the fatal crash was led by Sheriff Ian Wallace. Mr. Kurida’s family did not participate in the proceedings. Representations were made on behalf of the Crown by David Glancy OBE, on behalf of Mr. Kurida’s employer by Martin Sinclair, Solicitor, and on behalf of the Captain of the Ship, Artur Wnukowski, by Mark Donaldson, Solicitor.

No risk assessment

At the time of his death, Mr. Kurida was employed as a boatswain on board the Athina. On June 7, 2012, the Athina collided with the Aberdeen harbor wall and suffered some minor damage to the rear of her hull. The damage, which was not repaired while the Athina was moored, did not compromise the integrity of the ship, but should have been repaired at some point.

On the afternoon of June 9, the Athina headed out to sea and dropped anchor in tidal waters about 2 nautical miles from port. It was decided by Captain Wnukowski that the crew should start painting the Athina’s hull, including the damaged part. Mr Kurida suggested it could be done from one of the ship’s fast lifeboats, which the captain agreed to.

Work began the next morning. After lowering the fast lifeboat into the sea, which then had a slight swell, and attaching it to the main ship, the lifeboat rose in the swell relative to the Athina. This caused Mr. Kurida to become stuck between the ships. The captain contacted the mainland and said a crew member needed to go to hospital but did not describe it as an emergency.

Mr Kurida was taken to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary after being brought ashore by a fishing boat. He did not arrive at the hospital until 12:08 p.m. on June 10, where attempts to resuscitate him failed. Life was declared extinct at 12:59 p.m. The cause of death was certified as chest injuries, including a laceration of a main pulmonary vein.

It has been argued that the accident was caused by the decision to paint the hull of the Athina at sea using a machine that had not been risk assessed for this purpose and without carrying out an assessment complete risk. Had such an assessment been made, steps could have been taken that would have prevented Mr. Kurida’s death. It was further alleged that the crew failed to alert the Coast Guard immediately after the injury, which delayed Mr Kurida’s arrival at hospital.

Not a rush job

In his determination, Sheriff Wallace observed: “The decision not to paint the hull in the harbor does not appear to have been planned. On the contrary, events unfolded before this particular work could be done. However, the fact that the hull was not painted during this period would indicate that the damage was superficial and that the work was not urgent. This is relevant when considering the later decision to attempt to paint this damage on the high seas, when the risks involved were clearly greater.

He continued: “There was no such risk assessment in place for the painting operation from a fast rescue craft. As Captain Wnukowski now acknowledges, this raises the question of whether this is indeed the type of operation that should have been carried out. [The] the lack of a formal risk assessment left Captain Wnukowski with two options: to properly assess the risks of the proposed activity; or consider not proceeding. A risk assessment should have been carried out in terms of the ship’s safety management system, as this should have been recognized as an “unusual or infrequent” task.

Addressing the fact that the crew did not call emergency help sooner, the Sheriff said: ‘The delay in getting Mr Kurida to the hospital was unnecessary. This is of particular concern given the importance of getting a patient with serious chest injuries to a hospital with a cardiothoracic unit quickly. However, I recognize that Mr. Kurida’s injuries were not sufficient to survive.

He concluded: “I recommend that all those responsible for the operation of merchant vessels in UK waters have in place the necessary training, guidance, procedures and rules to ensure informed and appropriate responses to medical incidents of uncertain severity. . After discussion with the parties, I consider that the International Marine Contractors Association and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency have an interest in this recommendation.

In a postscript, Sheriff Wallace added, “It was clear that Captain Wnukowski and everyone involved with the Athina was deeply affected by Mr. Kurida’s death. He was obviously a dedicated and respected sailor. I will therefore conclude by offering my condolences, albeit belated, to Mr. Kurida’s family, friends and colleagues. The passage of time does nothing to lessen the tragedy of his death.