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Lost crew member revealed several safety hazards

| Jun 23, 2021 | Maritime Law |

When an employee sustains an injury at sea, shipping employers should conduct a thorough investigation to uncover the reasons behind the accident. In most cases, accidents are actually preventable incidents. 

Safety4Sea breaks down the process one company went through to identify the safety issues that led to a fatal accident at sea and the changes it made after a motorman fell overboard and disappeared. 

The accident

A team of crew members including a motorman set up razor wire on the periphery of the ship’s main deck. The motorman fell from the starboard accommodation ladder after climbing over the shipside guardrail. He disappeared, and a 14-hour search and rescue operation was unsuccessful at locating him. 

The investigation

After investigating, the company discovered several problems that led to the accident. Supervision and training issues were the primary contributors. No one provided oversight to the team of crew members to ensure that they wore lifejackets or performed safety procedures correctly. The motorman apparently had low safety awareness, as he did not put on his lifejacket and use the appropriate fall arrest system. 

In addition, the crew did not have advanced preparation for conducting a search and rescue operation, and they had not undergone adequate training for man overboard procedures.  

Safety changes

The company plans to make sure masters and officers provide adequate training, including improved man overboard training procedures and drills and safety awareness regarding personal protective equipment. Employers must also provide oversight to prevent employees from taking unnecessary risks or putting themselves in harm’s way. 

Everyone on board a ship shares some level of the risk, but companies have a responsibility to avoid all preventable accidents and ensure the safety of the crew on their vessels.