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Fatal fall from collapsing scaffolding on a merchant vessel

What happened

The Hong Kong Merchant Shipping organisation reports an incident in which a sailor was killed in a fall from collapsing scaffolding. The bosun and AB were assigned to rig a scaffolding to the maintenance platform which was bolted to the gusset plates at the boom of the port side hose handling crane (the boom) on the main deck.

When the bosun and AB were working on the maintenance platform of the boom setting the scaffolding, the platform and the scaffolding suddenly collapsed at the same time. The bosun fell onto the platform railing and he climbed back to the boom safely. Although the AB had worn a safety harness and anchored it to the platform railing in the form of a choker hitch, the lanyard of the safety harness snapped and failed to prevent him from falling from the platform at a height of about 7.9 metres onto the main deck. The AB was declared dead later on the same day.

What was the cause?

Investigation revealed that the securing bolts of the platform support were seriously corroded and failed to support the weight acting on it, resulting in the collapse of the platform;

The investigation also identified other contributory factors:

  • Poor risk assessment;
  • Poor supervision of scaffolding work being carried out by the crew without training record of scaffolding;
  • Non-compliance of the configuration of the scaffolding including the non-compliance of its structural steel rods with a generally recognized standard;
  • Insufficient safety instructions or guidelines for scaffolding work provided by the management company of the vessel;
  • Inappropriate maintenance of the safety harness;
  • Insufficient training on using personal protective equipment.

Members may wish to refer to:

Safety Event

Published: 11 March 2022
Download: IMCA SF 06/22

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