202049 Small fall is still a fall

27 Aug 2020 MARS 2020

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 40cm 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.

Lesson learned

  • 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.