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BSEE: worker injured in fall from height into water

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has published Safety Alert 343 in which a worker fell 24m into the water.

What Happened?

The worker was replacing a control valve on the platform crane.  A 3m ladder was placed between the overboard handrail and the crane.  As the mechanic was positioned on the crane skid (located around 2m above deck) he realised that he would need to descend the ladder to retrieve tools for the job.  After repositioning himself on the ladder, his grip or footing was lost, causing him to fall backwards and land in the water approximately 24m below.

He was transported back to the platform by a fishing vessel, 45 minutes after the incident, where he was then flown ashore for treatment; he was later diagnosed with fractures of cervical and lumbar vertebrae.

What went wrong?

  • High winds prevented the worker from retrieving a life vest which was thrown to him, but was later able to retrieve a vest which had been placed into a life ring;
  • Strong currents caused him to drift further from the platform;
  • The worker did not follow the safe work practices which required him to use fall protection for heights exceeding 6ft above the deck;
  • The United States Coast Guard (USCG) regulation (33 CFR 146.20) requiring the use of work vests when working near or over water was also not followed;
  • The job safety analysis (JSA) did not identify falling as a potential hazard during this operation.

The BSEE recommended that operators:

  • Ensure that proper procedures are implemented establishing minimum requirements for working at height;
  • Make sure personnel working at heights have knowledge and experience required to perform the job safely;
  • Review all pre-job planning procedures to ensure all necessary response procedures are included:
    • consider equipment position and hazards when completing pre-job planning so as to minimize risk.
Location of crane mechanic at time of incident (left) and view over the handrail (right)

Members may wish to refer to the following:

Safety Event

Published: 13 February 2019
Download: IMCA SF 02/19

Relevant life-saving rules:
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