Near miss: uncontrolled movement of gangway

What happened?

A vessel gangway moved in an unplanned way and could have been lost overboard.  The incident occurred when the starboard gangway was under maintenance; the upper part of the turning platform had been removed earlier for maintenance.  As a result, the gangway ladder was not connected to the turning platform.  The ladder was secured with bolts.

In order to repair a corroded part of the fixed gangway platform, a welder secured the forward part of the gangway with rope.  Then he loosened the securing bolts and gave a little slack on the gangway wire. 

At that moment, the forward rope slipped off and the forward tip of gangway fell 2-3m from where it was secured.  The aft tip of the gangway ladder was hanging by the gangway wire and securing rope.  The forward part of the ladder was approx. 2-3m lower.  The gangway wire and securing ropes on the aft part prevented the gangway from further falling over to the side.

Other crew immediately brought chain blocks and other equipment to secure and recover gangway ladder back in to the place.

What went wrong?

What ought to have been simple, straightforward and safe maintenance turned into a near miss.  Two crew members were busy with the task and neither of them thought that anything could go wrong.

What was the cause?

  • Human error:
    • inadequate attention to detail
    • inadequate job preparation
    • inadequate supervision.

What lessons were learned?

  • Reiterate the importance of safety awareness at the highest level with each and every job – the lesson is that things can go wrong with the most straightforward and ‘routine’ jobs. Complacency is to be guarded against.