Faulty ‘Work Aloft’ Checklist Results in Bosun’s Fall Onboard

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Blue arrow shows where the safety harness was attached to the lifeboat’s railing

The Marine Safety Investigation Unit (MSIU) issued an investigation report regarding a bosun’s fall aloft during routine maintenance operations onboard a general cargo ship, that lead to serious injury.

The incident:

The vessel ‘Garip Baba’ was heading to Rotterdam, The Netherlands from Hopa, Turkey when the crewmembers took the opportunity to carry out planned routine maintenance tasks. The bosun was instructed to grease the freefall lifeboat launching systems as per the manufacture’s instructions. An AB accompanied him during the job.

Safety harness similar to the one used by the bosun

The bosun was wearing his traditional safety gear, as well as a safety helmet and a safety harness. He was also carrying the grease gun which, however, was secured to his belt by means of a rope to facilitate movement with free hands.

The bosun moved on the davits of the freefall lifeboat and tried to relocate himself to a different position. During this action, he lost his balance and fell down from the davits to the poop deck, in close proximity of the mooring winches, injuring his back severely.

The bosun was transferred to a hospital in Italy for further medical assistance and necessary treatment and had to undergo a surgical treatment before he was actually repatriated.

 The drop from the davits to the poop deck was about 4.0 m

Probable cause:

The bosun stated that he was trying to relocate himself on the davits and therefore had to unhook the safety harness from the lifeboat’s railings. It was during this particular process that he lost his balance and fell to the poop deck.

Safety harness designed with two hooks

Findings:

  • The safety harness was a conventional one and inspections carried out soon after the accident revealed no problems or defects in the material. The harness, however, had one major design flaw. Given that there was one hook, it required the user to unhook it from the securing point before any significant movements could be made.
  • This was ironic, given that the probability of losing one’s balance was precisely during the relocation and hence, when the safety harness was unsecured. This latent issue was not detected during the risk assessment process. Although the risk of fall whilst climbing up and down and during the work per se was mentioned in the risk assessment, this was only addressed by referring to the ‘Work Aloft’ Checklist. The Checklist, however, made no reference to the disconnection of the safety harness’ hook and hence the risk remained unaddressed.

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Source: Transport Malta

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