Lessons Learned: Person Slips Climbing Out Of Tank


IMCA reports of an incident where a person slipped climbing out of tank.

What happened

A crew person was injured getting out of a fresh water tank on a vessel. The incident occurred during cleaning of the tank. The injured person was in the process of exiting the tank for a rest break. He was on the same level as the entry/exit hatch for the tank. As he was heading to the tank exit hatch, he slipped and during the fall he reached out with his right hand to help cushion his fall. He has been carrying a torch in one hand, nothing in the other.

He was attended to in the ships hospital for treatment and then it was necessary for him to be taken ashore for further medical treatment. He was unable to return to the vessel due to the nature of the injury – a closed fracture of the right forearm.

What went right

The two crew persons involved in the operation followed all appropriate safety controls for entry into the confined space of the tank – Permit to Work, toolbox talk, rescue plan etc. They were trained and competent in confined space entry and were wearing full and correct PPE for the task.

What went wrong

Our member’s investigation noted that the root cause was a slippery surface in the tank due to water pooling from the cleaning operation. The inner surface of the tank was a painted smooth surface, i.e. becoming slippery when wet.

  • This kind of tank entry was considered routine work with an elevated risk to it due to the design and confines of the tanks;
  • The risk was high due to the use of water to clean the tanks which in turn creates a slippery surface where there is potential for slipping over and consequent potential injury.

Lessons learned

  • Review schedule for Fresh Water Tank inspections to see if they are being completed too frequently and exposing crew to risk;
  • Review the coating requirements for tank to see if it is feasible to apply non-slip coating to the tanks to prevent slips.

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Source: IMCA