202242 Mind The Gap

21 Sep 2022

Coast Guard (USA) Safety Alert 04-2

The US Coast Guard is investigating a casualty involving a fall from a pilot ladder where the handholds in the gate arrangement aboard the vessel were modified so that the gate arrangement was not rigidly secured to the vessel’s structure at the point where the ladder comes aboard. This left a gap in the handholds where an embarking person might reasonably be expected to reach to pull themselves up.
The gap above the vessel structure appeared to be a modification to allow for the passing of the spreader during deployment and retrieval of the pilot ladder. This made it possible to retrieve the pilot ladder without having to lift the spreader up and over the vessel’s railings.

A Safety Alert has been issued, although, at this time we cannot speculate on how this modification contributed to the accident. Readers are reminded that pilot ladder requirements as specified in SOLAS 2004 (Consolidated) and by IMO Resolution A.1045 (27) should be strictly dhered to.

Lessons learned

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) recently published a series of standards aimed at improving pilot ladder safety. These standards supplement existing IMO recommendations and  requirements for pilot ladders. Vessel owners and operators, shipboard personnel and system designers are strongly encouraged to review and comply with these standards.

  • ISO 799-1:2019 Ships and marine technology – Pilot ladders – Part 1: Desnign ad specification.
  • ISO 799-2: 2021 Ships and marine technology – Pilot ladders – Part 2: Maintenance, use, survey, and inspection.
  • ISO 799-3:2022 Ships and marine technology – Pilot ladders – Part 3: Attachments and associated equipment.