Lessons Learned: Preventing Falls From Heights

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  • American P&I has published an alert to inform interested parties about falls from heights which can lead to serious injuries.
  • Falls from heights can lead to serious injuries to the head, thorax, abdomen/pelvis, vertebrae and extremities as well as fatalities.

As part of their Good Catch series, American P&I has published an alert to inform interested parties about falls from heights which can lead to serious injuries to the head, thorax, abdomen/pelvis, vertebrae and extremities as well as fatalities.

When work is to be done where there is a risk of falling 6 feet (2.7 meters) or more, make a Good Catch by utilizing a Working Aloft Permit that has been reviewed and signed by a senior officer as specified in the vessel’s safety management system.

Description

A crew member on a general cargo vessel was performing maintenance on a crane platform when he nearly fell through an access opening in the platform. Another crew member saw what was about to happen and immediately stopped the job. A near miss report was written and procedures were changed to require platform openings to be closed when workers are in proximity. Procedures were further changed to require those working on platforms to wear safety harnesses. The near miss report was also shared throughout the company.

Actual damage 

There were no injuries, just a very scary moment for the mariner who almost fell and for the mariner that stopped him.

Potential damages

Falls from heights can lead to serious injuries to the head, thorax, abdomen/pelvis, vertebrae and extremities as well as fatalities. Additionally, people over the age of 45 who fall from a height are statistically several times more likely to suffer a more serious or a fatal injury. Examples of the types of injuries that can occur based on the height of the fall include:

Fall Height Injury
2 meters (6.5 feet)Possible knee dislocation; spinal or cranial
injury
5 meters (16.4 feet)At least one broken bone in the foot or leg
possible
7.5 meters (24.6 feet)Likely head injury; likely illness due to
severe trauma to internal organs
9 meters (29.5 feet)Broken spine likely
14.6 meters (47.9 feet)Fatal for 50% of people; survivors will likely
have serious injuries to 2-3 major organs
18 meters (59 feet)Survivors will likely be crippled for life

Prevention

  • When work is to be done where there is a risk of falling 6 feet (2.7 meters) or greater, a Working Aloft Permit (WAP) is normally required and should be reviewed and signed by a senior officer as specified in the vessel’s safety management system (SMS).
  • The SMS should identify procedures for completing and documenting a WAP. The SMS should also specify when various fall arrest systems are required such as full-body harnesses, shock-absorbing lanyards, selfretracting lanyards, safety lines, safety nets, and the minimum requirements for anchoring points.
  • A risk assessment should be conducted as part of the WAP process. It should evaluate the specific work to be done as well as the training and experience of the mariners working aloft. Before starting the work, a toolbox meeting should be held with everyone involved, and all safety and lifting gear should be inspected. The bridge should be notified before starting the work aloft and when the work is completed.
  • While the work itself may be simple, working aloft can be especially hazardous due to the fall risk. The WAP is vitally important for mariner safety and the requirements in it should always be followed closely.

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Source: Safety4sea