The incident

A worker was replacing a control valve on the platform crane, while a 3m ladder was placed between the overboard handrail and the crane. As the WORKER was positioned on the crane skid, he realised that he would need to go down the ladder to retrieve tools for the job.


After repositioning himself on the ladder, his grip or footing was lost, and he fell backwards, landing into the water about 24m below.

45 minutes after the incident, he was transported back to the platform by a fishing vessel, from where he was flown ashore for treatment. The worker suffered fractures of cervical and lumbar vertebrae.

Probable cause

According to IMCA:

  • High winds did not allow the worker to retrieve a life vest which was thrown to him, but was later able to retrieve a vest which had been placed into a life ring;
  • Strong currents led him to drift further from the platform;
  • The worker did not follow the safe work practices which required him to use fall protection for heights over 6ft above the deck;
  • The US Coast Guard regulation (33 CFR 146.20) requiring the use of work vests when working near or over water was not followed;
  • The job safety analysis did not identify falling as a potential danger during this operation.


For its part, BSEE recommended the following:

  • Make sure that proper procedures are implemented establishing minimum requirements for working at height;
  • Ensure personnel working at heights have knowledge and experience required to perform the job safely;
  • Review all pre-job planning procedures to ensure all necessary response procedures are included, such as the consideration of equipment position and hazards when completing pre-job planning so as to minimize risk.