A SHIP worker died at the Port of Rosyth last year after several safety failings, an inquiry has found.

Brian Smith, 72, the temporary master of the Cherry Sand, was crushed between the dredger and the quayside after he fell while attempting to step ashore.

He took a single step towards the quayside but the ship was too far away from its berth and the gap, said to be around 1.5 metres, was too wide for him to cross.

Mr Smith was wearing a lifejacket and the ship’s crew were able to recover him onto the quayside, but his injuries were too severe and he could not be revived.

The accident happened on February 28, 2019 and the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) said the method used for self-mooring was "inherently hazardous" and found that crew routinely stepped ashore or on board when the "vessel was not tight alongside".

Owned by Associated British Ports (ABP), the ship was being used by UK Dredging, a division of ABP.

The Cherry Sand had arrived in port the day before to complete a dredge campaign in preparation for the arrival in Rosyth of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, which was assembled at the Fife dockyard.

The report identified a number of safety failings, including the master's certification, where it found "notable errors and omissions that should have raised concerns with either UK Dredging or

the manning agency about his fitness for duty".

It said there were "a number of indications of a weak safety culture on board" and added: "There was a marked difference between how the company imagined mooring operations were being conducted and actual practices on board.

"Such differences would have been abundantly clear to senior company staff had they been observing Cherry Sand’s mooring operations with safety in mind."

Mr Smith had climbed over Cherry Sand’s bulwark and on to the rubbing band in readiness to step ashore as part of a self-mooring operation.

The chief officer was still manoeuvring the dredger towards the berth when the master took a single step towards the quayside.

The inquiry report said: "The master’s foot missed the quay, and his torso hit the chains and quay edge before he bounced between the dredger and the quayside and disappeared from sight."

A lifebuoy was thrown to Mr Smith and the Cherry Sand's rescue boat was launched.

The port authority was also contacted and its rescue boat came to assist.

Mr Smith "appeared unconscious, with extensive crush injuries" and he did not have a pulse.

The port authority’s medical team attended to him before the ambulance crew arrived and declared him dead.

The MAIB report: "The master died as a result of crush injuries sustained when he became trapped between the moving dredger and the quayside.

"The 72-year-old master fell while attempting to step ashore from an unsuitable platform, the rubbing band, which had an uneven, slippery surface."

It added: "The postmortem examination report stated that the master’s death was the result of significant head, neck and chest injuries in keeping with crush injuries."

Following the accident UK Dredging has stopped its crews stepping ashore to self-moor, has taken a number of actions and reviewed its procedures.

A recommendation has been made to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to amend the Code of Safe Working Practices for Seafarers to provide guidance on mooring and unmooring operations, and when it is permissible for vessels to self-moor.

A recommendation has also been made to ABP aimed at ensuring a common approach to safety and the application of company procedures across the UK Dredging fleet.