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MAIB: Worker falls between vessel and quay

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch Safety Digest 2/2022 includes an incident in which a shore worker fell 8m between vessel and quay, suffering significant injuries.

What happened

A shore worker boarded a berthed bulk carrier via the gangway to obtain a signature on some paperwork. Because of the falling tide, the gangway was then stowed, its safety net was removed and the crew started to rig an alternative means of safe access and egress. The shore worker returned to the deck with the signed paperwork and was advised by the crew to wait a few minutes for this to be safely prepared for his disembarkation. He was also informed that the gangway was no longer in use for access.

Showing the actual rescue of the shore worker

What went wrong

The shore worker ignored the crew’s direction and walked along the stowed gangway, intending to jump ashore from its lower platform. At the lower platform, the shore worker slipped, lost his balance and fell over 8m into the sea between ship and shore, suffering significant injuries.

What went right

The alarm was raised and emergency services were quick to arrive on scene. Meanwhile, the Chief Officer climbed down the jetty ladder and pulled the shore worker out of the water and safely into a recess just above sea level. From there, the shore worker was evacuated to hospital on a stretcher for treatment of his injuries.

The lessons

  • Procedures: The shore worker was largely responsible for his own injuries. Crew instructions to visitors are not optional advice, and here were ignored!! This accident demonstrates the importance of safe means of access and the importance of managing and, where necessary, directing visitors on board to be safe.
  • Risk: Don’t rush!! Rushing to depart led to a nasty fall into the sea and injuries that required hospital treatment. Although waiting might have seemed tiresome, the short delay to the shore worker’s departure would be nothing compared to the pain and inconvenience he suffered from the fall. 
  • Equipment: Safe means of access is crucial. When rigged, and with a safety net in place, the gangway represented a safe means of access; however, the tidal state meant it was no longer safe to be used. The crew acted to remedy this and rig alternative means of access, but the shore worker was impatient to leave and, tempted by what he perceived to be an easy jump to the jetty, he contravened the crew’s instructions and took an unsafe route off the vessel.

Members may wish to refer to

Safety Event

Published: 13 December 2022
Download: IMCA SF 28/22

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