Lesson Learned: Overboard Incident Highlights Need For Improved Safety Measures On Container Vessel


  • A crew member fell overboard from a container vessel while approaching a Mediterranean port due to an unguarded opening near a fairlead.
  • The crew member was quickly rescued and unharmed.
  • An investigation found the hazard could have been prevented through regular safety assessments.
  • The company installed a railing to mitigate risk and issued a fleetwide safety bulletin, emphasizing the importance of dynamic risk assessments and notifying the fleet of unguarded openings.
  • This incident underscores the need for vigilant safety measures and continuous hazard identification.

The incident involving the crew member falling overboard from the container vessel while approaching a Mediterranean port highlights important lessons for safety in maritime operations:

Hazard Identification

Observation: The unguarded opening near the mooring line fairlead represented a significant hazard. Despite being obvious after the incident, it remained unnoticed during the ship’s design phase and operational assessments.
Lesson: Regular and thorough safety assessments should be conducted to identify and mitigate potential hazards, especially near vessel sides where the risk of falling overboard is high.

Crew Actions

  • Observation: The action of swinging a heaving line around a structural pillar, which had been performed without issue in the past, led to the crew member losing balance and falling overboard.
  • Lesson: Crew should be made aware of the potential risks of routine actions and receive training on safer alternatives. The swift implementation of safety measures, such as adding railings and supports, and communication of the incident to the entire fleet help prevent similar accidents.

Dynamic Risk Assessments

  • Observation: The ability to perform dynamic risk assessments on-the-spot is crucial for identifying, analyzing, and controlling workplace hazards as they arise.
  • Lesson: Encourage crew members to be vigilant and conduct immediate risk assessments during operations. Such assessments can prevent hazardous situations from escalating and ensure safety during real-time activities.

By incorporating these lessons into future maritime operations, companies can enhance the safety of their crews and prevent similar accidents from occurring. Proper training, regular risk assessments, and immediate action when hazards are identified are key to maintaining safe working environments.

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Source: MAIB