During the morning of 15 January 2014, two fishermen were found dead in their bunks on board the scallop-dredger Eshcol in Whitby, North Yorkshire. The men had died from carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of leaving the grill of a butane-fuelled gas cooker lit when they went to bed. The grill was being used to warm the wheelhouse and sleeping area.
two fishermen were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning while they slept in their bunks
the carbon monoxide was emitted from a lit butane-fuelled cooker that was being used to heat the accommodation
the gas cooker, which had probably never been serviced, was in poor condition and consequently emitted high levels of carbon monoxide
the deceased fishermen were tired and cold and weren’t aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning; they had left the cooker grill lit and had closed the wheelhouse door and windows
a carbon monoxide alarm, which would have alerted the fishermen, was not fitted
although fitted with bunks, the vessel was not properly equipped for overnight sleeping; it had no toilet or fridge and the heaters were either not working or damaged
Recommendations have been made to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency which are intended to ensure that: the accommodation areas in all small fishing vessels are fitted with a carbon monoxide alarm; and the circumstances of this accident are taken into account during the intended alignment of the regulations for small fishing vessels with other commercially operated vessels of a similar size.
A recommendation has been made to the Sea Fish Industry Authority, which is intended to raise the general awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide among fishermen and measures designed to raise the standard of safety management across his fleet have been recommended to the owner of Eshcol.
A safety bulletin highlighting the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning was produced for this report.