An immediate safety flash following a tragic accident suffered by a member company which resulted in four fatalities and three serious injuries was released by the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA). Now the association wants to warn a wider audience of its concerns over programmable logic controllers (PLCs) in marine operations.
"The accident was so serious that our Marine Division's Management Committee wants to bring the lessons learned to a far wider audience," explained IMCA's Chief Executive Hugh Williams.
"As an industry we put great trust in PLCs and in the sub-contractors who install them, after all these devices control almost every piece of equipment on a modern vessel. But, as each vessel is bespoke it is difficult for one contractor to learn directly from another's experiences."
"Our Marine Division Committee wants to emphasise our concerns about PLCs in marine operations in the strongest possible terms. We want to urge members and non-members alike that where operations are undertaken by semi or fully automated machinery systems controlled by PLCs, that the behaviour of such machinery during restarting or resetting of their control systems must be fully understood; and then that the consequences of restarting or resetting such control systems during specific operations are fully risk assessed. This should apply to any PLC-based machinery system where (high-) potential risk of injury or damage exists."