Skip to content

Slip on stairs

A member reports that an able seaman slipped on an external stairway and fell heavily on his elbow, injuring himself. He had been washing down and had cleared away his bucket before heading down to the mess room. The stairway had a handrail on either side, but he used neither. The treads on the stair were in good condition and well painted, but were wet and the surface was quite smooth. One of his feet slipped forward and he fell backwards onto the stairs.

The company involved has noted the immediate cause of the accident as the slippery stair treads, which it has noted can be fixed by applying a good coat of non-skid paint and ensuring it remains ‘non-skid’.

In addition, the company has expressed concern as to why the able seaman did not hold on to the handrails provided. He was experienced, had been trained and was well aware that ships are continuously moving. The company notes contributory factors in this incident as being poor judgement, lack of concentration and inadequate reinforcement of critical safe behaviours. The company has undertaken to address these behavioural issues through training, awareness-raising initiatives, advanced safety auditing and regular safety meetings.

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.

IMCA’s store terms and conditions ( apply to all downloads from IMCA’s website, including this document.

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.