Failing to provide a safe entrance and exit from a vessel can lead to serious risks to people, mostly when these unsafe practices are combined with bad weather or extreme tidal variation.

Therefore, AMSA advises to manage risks:

  1. Assess the risks

What are they? What could make them worse? What could happen to a person if things go wrong? How bad would the impact be?

  1. Implement ways to control those risks. These might include:
  • Ensuring a ‘safe design’ gangway.
  • Limiting access in bad weather and if necessary, during extreme tidal variations.
  • Providing adequate lighting around the gangway at night to increase visibility.
  • Securing gangways clear of the wharf edge, or other potential hazards.
  • Including instructions on when and how to safely board the vessel—and when not to—in your crew safety inductions and signage. Under the general safety duties, crew and passengers must follow this instruction.
  • Encouraging your crew to report hazards associated with getting on and off the vessel.
  • Developing emergency procedures for possible incidents associated with access to the vessel i.e. falls, person overboard

The identification, documentation and manage of risks will assist the shipping industry implement the right risk controls, including safe work procedures, regular inspection and maintenance of equipment, appropriate training, induction and supervision of crew.

Time and resource pressures result to safe access arrangements being rushed or overlooked.

Wharf arrangements: Sometimes, poor wharf design prevents landing a gangway, and this has a significant impact on the safety of access arrangements.

In addition, coordination/communication between shore-side and the vessel’s crew can help to mitigate barriers and issues arising, as items such as water/fuel manifolds, bollards, and electrical installations on the wharf side are common obstructions and are something to consider when allocating berths to vessels.

Moreover, passenger vessels should keep in mind that passengers are not familiar with getting on and off vessels. Thus, they should find additional points of access.

AMSA recommends to assess the risks of rigging access, accommodation ladders and additional access methods, by conducting risk assessment of the rigging, adjusting and derigging of access equipment, including the selection of appropriate equipment and secondary means of support.

Concluding, the Authority highlights to always remember the following:

  1. select the right access equipment
  2. assess all risks
  3. allow time for safe rigging
  4. monitor the means of access to ensure it remains safe
  5. include vessel access equipment in your maintenance plan.
Similarly, Maritime New Zealand issued a safety update highlighting the importance of rightly using secured pilot ladders to avoid accidents and provides information on safety boarding arrangements and the methods used to ensure secure pilot ladders.