As UK MAIB reports in its most recent Safety Digest, a bulk carrier was alongside in port late one afternoon. The cargo discharge had been completed and the second officer (2/O) and able seaman (AB) were standing on the midship port side catwalk, preparing for the loading of the next cargo by lowering the upper rails around the hold hatches.
nce the rail was released, the rail would hang vertically downwards and allow the cargo to be loaded without interference from the rail.
The 2/O was leaning towards the unsecured rail when it suddenly started to fall outboard. The 2/O, who was not wearing a safety harness fixed to the catwalk, lost their balance and fell about 3.5m to the concrete quay below. The 2/O was in hospital for more than 10 days, having broken both legs in an attempt to land on their feet.
- Procedure → The shipboard risk assessment for this task required anyone working aloft or over the ship’s side to wear a fall arrester. Following safety procedures increases the opportunity to identify hazards and determine what equipment or control measures are needed to mitigate them and keep people safe.
- Equipment → A safety harness and appropriate restraint tether would have prevented the fall. Personal protective equipment (PPE) may be deemed uncomfortable to wear and will likely require adjusting to allow you to work effectively, but it is essential when carrying out high-risk tasks such as working at height.