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Lost time injury (LTI): Fall from height

A member has reported an incident in which a crewman suffered an injury during a fall from height. The incident occurred when a senior ROV pilot technician was climbing down from the ROV hydraulic power unit (HPU) after cleaning the unit with another crewman acting as spotter and assistant. When making his final step down from the HPU, the injured person’s full body harness safety lanyard caught on one of the rigging points. As the lanyard hung up, it prevented him from touching the deck with his final step from the HPU, causing him to swing into and make forceful contact with the LARS stowed transport post. The post protruded approximately 5 inches and is approximately 4 feet off the deck. He hit the post in the lower right back just below his right shoulder blade.

During the injured person’s descent, the other crewman had left the area to stow tools. He heard a loud bang and a scream. When he arrived back at the scene, he noted his colleague was suspended approximately one inch off of the deck, with toes just touching the deck. He helped him to the deck, and called the medic.

The injured person was taken to local medical facilities where he was diagnosed with rib contusion and given prescription drugs for pain. At a follow-up examination some days later the injured person’s duty status was changed to restricted duty with no bending, no climbing and no lifting of more than 5 kg. A further medical appointment was scheduled. Four days of lost time were incurred.

The company’s investigation revealed the following:

  • Failure to follow the job safety analysis that had been established and reviewed prior to work starting;
    • the JSA identified that a ladder should be used, however this ladder was not used for either ascent or descent
    • the spotter was to remain in the work area during the performance of all tasks, but left to store tools during his colleague’s descent from height;
  • Rushing to complete the job without consideration of hazards which included: the injured person failing to check all conditions before descent from the HPU, and the spotter leaving area to store tools before his colleague was safely on deck.

The company noted that risk assessments and job safety analyses are generated and reviewed for employees’ safety, and should be read, understood and followed, otherwise employees and their colleagues can be placed at risk. The following lessons were learnt:

  • Failure to understand and fulfil assigned safety responsibilities places everyone in danger. Spotters and observers must recognise the importance of their roles and remain vigilant when monitoring work activities;
  • Rushing to complete tasks could have serious long-term consequences, as short cuts may be taken which could result in accidents. No job is more important than the people who perform it. Work carefully and deliberately and give yourself time to think about potential hazards and doing the job right. Always put safety first.

IMCA Safety Flashes summarise key safety matters and incidents, allowing lessons to be more easily learnt for the benefit of all. The effectiveness of the IMCA Safety Flash system depends on Members sharing information and so avoiding repeat incidents. Please consider adding [email protected] to your internal distribution list for safety alerts or manually submitting information on incidents you consider may be relevant. All information is anonymised or sanitised, as appropriate.

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IMCA makes every effort to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data contained in the documents it publishes, but IMCA shall not be liable for any guidance and/or recommendation and/or statement herein contained. The information contained in this document does not fulfil or replace any individual’s or Member's legal, regulatory or other duties or obligations in respect of their operations. Individuals and Members remain solely responsible for the safe, lawful and proper conduct of their operations.