202335 - Make a point of 3 points of contact

26 Jul 2023 MARS

A vessel underway at sea was experiencing some rolling under heavy weather conditions. Crew were undertaking normal housekeeping duties.

A crewmember slipped while descending a staircase and, with only his right hand lightly gripping the handrail, his efforts to stabilise his body were ineffectual. His small finger was bent back and sustained injury on the vertical post as he fell.

The company investigation found that although he had proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), his method of descending was suboptimal, in that, with only one hand on the right handrail, he was ignoring the good practice of having ‘three points of contact’ at all times. Risks were also more acute due to the rolling of the vessel.


Lessons learned

  • Everyday tasks and movements can appear less risky over time due to familiarity. Don’t let your guard down!
  • It is good practice to have a firm grip and use both hands on each handrail while using a staircase

Editor’s note I am personally aware of another incident where an outside staircase had become more slippery over time as the anti-slip paint was gradually worn away. The gradual nature of the wearing away had led the crew to ‘adapt’ their behaviour and they all took great care while using the staircase – but hadn’t yet thought to redo the anti-slip paint! When an outside party came to audit the vessel, she fell on that very staircase due to it being wet and slippery. Luckily, she was not badly injured.