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Fatal fall from height during cargo operations – Johanna C

The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has published Report 1/2017 regarding a fatal fall from height during cargo operations. The Chief Officer on board the UK registered general cargo ship Johanna C fell from a large steel cargo unit that was being repositioned in the vessel’s forward hold. The chief officer was moved ashore and taken to a local hospital by ambulance, but he died shortly after arrival.

The investigation identified that:

  • It was inherently unsafe and unnecessary for a person to stand on top of the cargo while it was being lifted – the risks of standing on a load under tension were not recognised;
  • The fatally injured party lost his balance and fell onto the deck following a sudden and unexpected movement of the cargo and/or its lifting slings as the cargo was lifted;
  • The sudden and unexpected movement of the cargo and/or its slings was possibly due to the slings slipping from their intended positions;
  • The crew’s response following the chief officer’s fall was immediate and positive.

Actions taken:

  • Vessel crews have been prohibited from standing on loads under tension;
  • The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has also taken action to include the dangers of standing on loads being lifted in its Code of Safe Working Practices.

The full report can be found

Members may wish to refer to the following almost identical incident (search words: height, cargo):

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