Deck Engineer on Barge Dies When Struck by Crane Counterweight in Washington State

Washington Case Report: 10WA040
Release Date: June 8, 2012

The following report is the product of our Cooperative State partner and is presented here in its original unedited form from the state. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the individual Cooperative State partner and do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.


In June of 2010, a 26-year-old female deck engineer died when she was struck by the counterweight of a barge mounted crane/derrick. The deck engineer (victim) and a crane operator, both employees of a marine construction company, were working from a crane/derrick barge in support of a crew working at a job site on a project to replace pilings underneath a pier. The project involved having divers in the water and workers in small boats taking out the old pilings and replacing them with new ones. The crane operator on the crane/derrick barge would operate the crane to lift waste pilings from the water and place them on an adjacent barge and lift new pilings and other supplies to workers in the water.

The victim was an apprentice heavy duty repair mechanic and an inexperienced deck engineer who had worked in the company shop for the past 10 months; this was her third day on the job as a deck engineer. She was welding repairs to a guard railing on the barge’s upper deck when the crane operator rotated the crane to make a pick of pilings from the water. The crane’s counterweight struck her in the head and neck, pinning her against the railing.

A bystander on the pier alerted company employees that she was hurt. An employee went to check on the victim and found her unresponsive. Another employee called emergency medical services (EMS). As an employee was applying an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to the victim, EMS personnel arrived and began CPR. She was then removed from the barge and taken to a hospital where she was declared dead.

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Page last reviewed: November 18, 2015