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Uncertified bosun’s chairs

What happened

A member conducting management visits to vessels discovered three separate cases where “Bosun’s Chairs” or similar support structures for working at height activities related to painting and repair works, had been fabricated by crew from wooden boards and ropes. 

Our member notes that using uncertified fall arrest equipment, including a “Bosun’s Chair”, can pose significant hazards and risks to the user. Fall protection equipment, such as harnesses, lanyards, and anchors, should always be sourced from a reputable manufacturer, appropriately certified, and in accordance with local regulatory requirements. 

What went wrong

  • Lack of hazard recognition and appreciation: Uncertified fall arrest equipment used on some vessels, despite clear SMS requirements to the contrary;
  • Lack of awareness of existing company standards and procedures; 
  • Inadequate audit & inspection process: should have picked up on this earlier – the use of uncertified “Bosun’s  Chairs” was not identified nor challenged by shore personnel.
  • The lessons were not learned: this has been identified before as an issue on some vessels but still not put right.


  • The unsafe “home-made” equipment was removed and destroyed;
  • Arrangements were put in place for only suitably designed and certified fall arrest and man-riding equipment to be used for Working at Height activities.

Members may wish to refer to

Safety Event

Published: 16 October 2023
Download: IMCA SF 24/23

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