The incident

While cleaning a storage cabinet onboard a vessel, a safety helmet retained for use by visitors was found to be several years past its storage life expiry date.

Credit: IMCA

This prompted the inspection of all in-use and stored/spare safety helmets onboard the vessel. The inspection identified five helmets which were past their recommended in-use life and three helmets past their storage life.

Several safety helmet suspension systems were also found to be defective – faulty ratchet adjusters and torn webbing.

According to IMCA, an inspection on onboard another vessel working on the same project also found several out of date and defective safety helmets.

Lessons learned:

  1. Safety helmets don’t last forever – remember it’s your head and your life the helmet protects.
  2. There was inadequate management of in-use and stored safety helmets resulted in safety helmets which had exceeded their storage/in-use life, and/or were defective, still being available for use.
  3. A standard/conventional safety helmet consists of two components, the shell and the suspension, which work together as a system. When in-use both components require periodic inspection and maintenance in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Lack of familiarisation training in the inspection, use and storage of safety helmets can lead to defects not being identified or reported.

Actions taken:

  1. Members are encouraged to check the procurement, storage and use of safety helmets.
  2. The storage-life and in-use life of a safety helmet is determined by the manufacture and whilst only a recommendation, should be followed.
  3. Spare safety helmets should be stored in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Exceeding the storage life will reduce its in-use life accordingly. Stock levels should be kept to a minimum and storage conditions monitored.
  4. When not being worn, in-use safety helmets should be stored safely and protected from damage.

See also:

Lessons learned: Dedicate quarantine spaces for defective equipment

Lessons learned: Moving slings with a forklift is a risky technique

Lessons learned: Hand injury during routine maintenance onboard