What the type of casualty
Very serious marine casualty: Fall from platform in cargo hold
A crew member was making repairs to the hand rails that surrounded the lowest of three intermediate platforms built into the cargo hold access ladder. The platform was designed as a landing to hold a single person while moving from one section of the cargo hold access ladder to the next. The ship was at sea and the cargo hatch covers were closed. The hand rails had been removed for repair and the crew member was about to refit them to the platform. The lower platform was five metres above the tank top. There was no eye witness to the accident, but it is likely that the crew member tripped or slipped from the platform and, as he was not wearing a safety harness, he fell to the tank top below. He died from multiple injuries.
Why did it happen?
The platform was cluttered with equipment that the crew member was using to effect the repairs and was not guarded by hand rails, making the platform a congested and dangerous place to work.
A single halogen light had been rigged about one metre above the platform. The light was another obstacle that the crew member had to work around.
Although shipboard procedures required the crew member to use a safety harness for the task, he was not wearing one at the time. Wearing a safety harness and connecting it to a secure point would have arrested his fall.
What can we learn?
Working at height without the protection of hand rails is a hazardous situation. It is important that seafarers follow industry best practice of using a safety harness when working at height.
It is important when working in dark spaces that sufficient lighting is used to illuminate the immediate and general working area without obstructing the workers.