Lessons Learned: Rope Access Technician Dislocates Shoulder


IMCA, in its Safety Events, reports an incident where a rope access technician slipped and dislocated shoulder.

What happened

A rope access technician sustained an injury to the right shoulder while accessing the vessel transom port-side platform, following buoyancy module pad retrieval from the pipe string. Upon reaching the buoy loader area, the rope access technician climbed on top of the platform handrail, lost grip when reaching for the handrail, and fell approximately 1m.

What went wrong

The rope access technician lost grip after stepping with both feet on the wet and slippery handrail (angled stiffener). Due to the wet, slippery environment and due to one grease-contaminated glove, he was unable to sustain his body weight with his hands and fell simultaneously rotating his body which was still connected to the ropes, leading to a dislocated shoulder.

What was the cause

IMCA members noted the cause as inadequate risk planning and risk assessment.


  • For rope access operations in particular, task planning and Job Safety Analysis should be exhaustive and detailed;
  • Taking shortcuts, no matter how trivial, has the potential to trigger a chain of events that can lead to an incident.


  • Held a safety stand-down with the rope access subcontractor;
  • Raised awareness of hazards and risks associated with slips, trips and falls;
  • Arranged refresher training in Job Safety Analysis and Risk Assessment for rope access teams.

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Source: IMCA