Sprained ankle whilst climbing on equipment

What happened?

A crewman slipped and sprained his ankle climbing off equipment on which he had been working.  The incident occurred inside a transition piece (the lower part of an offshore wind turbine tower).  A crewman was climbing down off a cable rack (on which he had climbed to loosen cable cleats and apply a heat blanket) when he slipped off and twisted his ankle, loosing balance and falling onto the floor.

He managed to walk back to the vessel over the walk-to-work (W2W) gangway on his own, and suffered no fractures; however, he sprained his ankle, restricting him from normal duties for three days.

What were the causes?

  • The cable rack was not designed to be climbed on; the spacing between rungs varies and does not follow the standard for fixed ladders;
  • Access to the work location on top of the cable rack was not addressed in the risk assessment and the related procedure;
  • Inadequate mitigations implemented; the narrow workspace in the transition piece does not allow the use of stepladders and work platforms.

What lessons were learned?

  • Identify hazards at design stage to ensure that safe access can be achieved;
  • Before starting work, safe access to any site should be established. If this can’t be achieved, then STOP the job and report the issue to your Supervisor;
  • Ladders and platforms – safe and appropriate to the conditions should be used and working at height processes should be followed.