Fall From Height Onboard Ro-Ro Vessel Leads To Loss of Life!


A crewman from Cyprus registered ro-ro freight vessel Seatruck Pace died as a result of 4.5 meters fall through a vehicle ramp hatch, according to a report published on its website.

Summary of events

The crewman was working alone and preparing to paint the leading edge of the open ramp hatch cover. For reasons that could not be determined, the crewman crossed a temporary safety barrier guarding the edge of the open hatch and walked along a narrow deck edge between the ships side and the open hatch on which several trailer trestles were stowed.

The crewman’s fall was not witnessed but it is evident that he had fallen at or about the same time as one of the trestles. He was treated at the scene before being taken to hospital. He died three days later.

Safety issues highlighted

The crewman crossed a safety barrier protecting an open hatch.
The risk of falling was accepted having probably taken similar risks in the past.
Work practices indicated that adherence to the vessel’s safety procedures was based on routine rather than of understanding and conviction.

Actions taken

  • Reminded its masters of the dangers of bypassing safety control measures and prompted them to review the safety of deck openings.
  • Provided safety chains, fittings and warning signs for use on the temporary barriers rigged on the main vehicle decks of its ferries.
  • Reviewed its risk assessment and PTWs concerning working at height.
  • Introduced a procedure for recording the use of safety harnesses.
  • Committed to ensuring that all masters and safety officers complete a Maritime and Coastguard.
  • Agency safety officers’ training course.
  • Completed a ‘safety culture survey’ among its senior management, and senior managers have attended the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) ‘Behaviour Change – Achieving Health & Safety Culture Excellence’.
  • Engaged HSE consultants with the aim of forming a safety culture steering group and implementing the HSE’s Safety Climate Tool.
  • Undertaken to revise the SMS to highlight those specific items of equipment should only be used for their intended purpose, e.g. trailer trestles should only be used to support trailers.


In view of actions taken by the ship’s manager, no recommendations have been made.

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