Ship in port general

Nautical Institute: Use fall prevention even if the height seems small

Slips, trips, and falls are one of the leading causes of injuries for shipboard personnel, according to The Nautical Institute. This is highlighted in a recent Mars Report in which a hazard in plain sight was overlooked resulting in a fall.

The Nautical Institute gathers reports of maritime accidents and near-misses. It then publishes these so-called Mars Reports (anonymously) to prevent other accidents from happening. A summary of this incident:

A tanker had loaded and left port while crew were still securing the deck for sea passage and making preparation for heating the cargo. One crew member was assigned maintenance duties on the deck heat exchangers.

To perform these duties, he was standing on hydraulic lines located some 40 centimetres above deck and using a spanner to make the necessary adjustments.

Suddenly, through a combination of ship movements and his precarious position, he lost his balance on the hydraulic lines and, jumping down, hit his back on a deck frame. The resulting injury required first aid and a hospital visit followed by four days’ rest.

The crew member fell due to a combination of ship movements and his precarious position.

Advice from The Nautical Institute

  • Slips, trips, and falls are one of the leading causes of injuries for shipboard personnel. This another example of a hazard in plain sight that was still invisible to the crew.
  • Always ensure you keep a sure footing while working and use fall prevention even if the height seems small.
  • Routine jobs can contribute to a sense of control and hence complacency.

Mars Reports

This accident was covered in the Mars Reports, originally published as Mars 202049, that are part of Report Number 335. A selection of this Report has also been published in SWZ|Maritime’s October 2020 issue. The Nautical Institute compiles these reports to help prevent maritime accidents. That is why they are also published on SWZ|Maritime’s website.

More reports are needed to keep the scheme interesting and informative. All reports are read only by the Mars coordinator and are treated in the strictest confidence. To submit a report, please use the Mars report form.

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.