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Only a centimetre – an emergency exit hatch blocked by mooring ropes

What happened

On a vessel alongside in port, an emergency exit hatch was found to be blocked.  A team making a daily inspection tour round the vessel found that they could not open an emergency exit hatch providing egress from the engine room to deck on the port side at the stern.

What went wrong

It was discovered that the hatch was blocked by mooring ropes applied on the mooring bitts. 

Please see the second image with the yellow circle. Note that the mooring ropes “only just” get in the way by barely a centimetre. But that centimetre could have been enough to cost someone their life in an emergency. 

What were the causes?

Our member noted the following causes:

  • Failure of engineering design – the operation of the emergency exit hatch was not taken into account during the ship building or modification process;
  • Lack of inspection – this latent unsafe condition was not revealed during previous safety rounds on board the vessel.

Recommendations/Corrective Actions

  • Check whether or not your hatches or doors could get “only just” blocked – ensure that all emergency exits on board vessels are inspected, kept unobstructed, have good lighting and are well maintained. Report any potential for blockage – and fix it.

Members may wish to refer to:

Safety Event

Published: 27 April 2021
Download:

Relevant life-saving rules:
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