Escape Hatch Blocked! Top 4 Checks When Contractors Onboard



During a general walk around on a vessel an electrical transformer was discovered as pictured below. After checking it transpired that the transformer had been left by a contractor who had placed it on top of an escape hatch because the cable was too short to reach a ships power socket. This was despite the top of the hatch being marked “Escape”.

It is likely that the extra weight on top of the escape hatch would have made it extremely difficult if not impossible to open.

Discussion were held on whether the hatch should have been painted red and if this would have stopped the contractor placing any items on top of the hatch? It was unclear if it would have deterred him but it may have made him think a little!

It is important to remember that contractors don’t know the ship in quite the same way as staff and It is doubtful that they would understand the severity of actions such as this.


When contractors are onboard, it is important to:

  1. Conduct a full and proper Tool Box Talk at the worksite; understand the scope of work and how the contractor intends to carry out the task / what tools are they going to use and any other requirements they may have.
  2. Conduct impromptu inspections of the worksite, as is required under the Control of Work.
  3. Ensure that worksite is safe at all times. Prior / during / and on completion of the task.
  4. It may have been a contractor who did this, however responsibility ultimately stops with you!

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Source: Marine Safety Forum