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Near-miss: Person fell from boarding ladder

A member has reported an incident in which a person slipped from the barge boarding ladder and almost fell into the water. During a short boat transfer from the accommodation vessel to the barge, the anchor handling tug moored alongside the barge and the crew transfer commenced. The transfers were performed in an orderly fashion with the personnel patiently waiting for the best moment to step from the anchor handling tug (AHT) on to the ladder of the barge. However, one person missed his step, lost his grip and fell between the AHT and the barge. He landed on one of the tyre fenders and was immediately helped inboard by other passengers still on the AHT. The transfer operation was aborted immediately and the AHT moved to the other (lee) side of the barge. The man that fell suffered only a superficial scratch on the right arm.

An investigation revealed the following:

  • Existing project-specific personnel transfer protocols/procedures were not followed;
  • There was inadequate allocation of resources. The dedicated crew tender was being used for other purposes at that time, resulting in the use of an AHT to perform a crew tender job;
  • Precautionary measures already identified in the hazard identification (HAZID) (i.e. suitable embark/disembark arrangements) were not installed;
  • The job should have been stopped under ‘stop work’ authority, but nobody did so.

The following measures were put in place to prevent recurrence:

  • Re-write of the project specific protocol/procedures for personnel transfer;
  • Nomination of a ‘marine traffic controller’ to perform the following tasks
    • observe all vessel movements to and from the barge
    • provide advice on which side of the barge to moor up;
  • Reinforce the ‘stop work’ authority in project documentation and project induction;
  • Determine if additional training is required for personnel engaged in vessel-to-barge transfer.

For further information on this subject, members may wish to refer to Guidance on the transfer of personnel to and from offshore vessels and structures.

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