On 17 March 2017, a crew member was killed on board the Dutch trailing suction hopper dredger Scelveringhe, while the vessel was sailing from the port of Esbjerg in Denmark towards its loading area on the North Sea.

When the water pump was started on the bridge to pump more seawater into the hold to reduce the ship’s movement through the waves, the crew member was washed into the hold together with the seawater. The crew member eventually drowned in the hold.

Investigation publication


The crew who had identified the risks of working in the loading pipe relied on their own agreements, which were not designed according to an occupational safety and health strategy, and were not included in the Safety Management System (SMS). The agreements were not examined for shortcomings, and were insufficiently guaranteed, so that it was possible for work to be carried out in the loading pipe without the bridge having been informed.

The SMS on board the Scelveringhe satisfied the statutory requirements. The International Safety Management (ISM) code however prescribes a generic system that is applicable to general work on board ships. A generic SMS does not consider specific tasks on board a trailing suction hopper dredger in general, and this trailing suction hopper dredger in particular. As a result, the SMS only made a limited contribution to safe working and a safe working environment on board the ship.


The Dutch Safety Board has drawn the following lessons.

To parties required to operate a safety management system:

  1. A safety management system can only make an active contribution to increasing or guaranteeing safety if it ties in with the practice on board the type of vessel for which it is intended.
  2. The operator of a ship must supplement a safety management system that is based on standard shipping operations, in according with the minimum requirements of the ISO code, with ship-specific risks. Subsequently, in respect of those supplementary risks, an occupational safety and health strategy can serve as a guideline for correctly adapting procedures for ship-specific risks.
  3. Safety awareness on board must be of a sufficiently high level so that crew members recognise written and agreed procedures as essential, and act accordingly.


Investigation data

Theme Shipping

Investigation start date

Report publication date

Type Shortened Investigation

Status Completed

Phase Publication