202047 Backscratcher becomes tummy tickler

25 Aug 2020 MARS 2020

While in port, an observer from another ship sent the photo right. We can see a member of the ship’s crew standing on the outside of the ‘back scratcher’ of the main mast ladder without fall protection.

According to the observer, he stretched from this position to change a lamp on the forward side of the mast. He descended the ladder then returned; on both occasions, once he reached the top he climbed through the back scratcher to access the lamp. On inserting the new lamp and without the appearance of having communicated via radio, the light immediately illuminated.

That probably indicates that the light’s electrical system had not been locked out. On the first occasion, another crew member was standing at the starboard bridge wing door watching. He did nothing to stop the job and seemed to be taking an observer/standby role.

Lesson learned

  • Obviously, one should never exit the confines of a back scratcher unless fully secured by some other means of fall protection. l In this case, the back scratcher may have been fit for some other purpose – but not for changing the front-facing lamp.
  • If you see an unsafe act being carried out on your own vessel, intervene immediately. l Even such banal tasks as changing a light bulb should be preceded by a lock-out procedure of the electrical source, especially in wet and outdoor environments.