‘Accommodation ladder handrail installation should be handled with care’

A near miss with a handrail collapsing while a pilot was disembarking has driven The Nautical Institute to pay attention to this piece of equipment in its latest Mars Reports. ‘Handrails are an essential safety element of an accommodation ladder and should be given the utmost attention when installing,’ states the Institute.

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:

Two pilots had taken an LNG vessel outbound from a port and were now disembarking using the port side combination ladder (accommodation ladder + vertical pilot ladder). The first pilot safely disembarked the vessel onto the pilot boat without incident.

As the second pilot was descending on the lower section of the accommodation ladder, at approximately 10 metres above sea level, the handrail released from its securing point and collapsed to knee height.
The pilot was able to recover and was uninjured.

Investigation findings

The ensuing investigation found that a securing pin intended to hold a portion of the multi-sectional accommodation ladder handrail system in the upright position had not been correctly installed.

Advice from The Nautical Institute

In addition to the advice given above, The Nautical Institute stresses that embarking and disembarking at sea is an activity that comprises many risks with potential grave consequences: ‘Give tasks related to these activities your best attention.’

Mars Reports

This accident was covered in the Mars Reports, originally published as Mars 202105, that are part of Report Number 339. A selection of this Report has also been published in SWZ|Maritime’s February 2021 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.