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Supervisor inadvertently knocks over barrier and falls through open hatches

  • What happened?

    Vessel crew were offloading equipment from below-decks through a series of hatches using two chain pulls joined together.

    A portable barrier (two stanchions and barrier chain) was placed around the work area on the upper deck (see image).

    Crew operating the chain pulls were inside the barriered off area, wearing fall arrest harness and inertia reel.

    As the equipment was being lifted, a supervisor situated on the upper main deck outside of the barriered off area moved to get a better look.

    He inadvertently knocked over the barrier, lost his footing, tipped forward towards the barrier and fell 7m (23ft) down the hatch.

    He fractured his shoulder and ankle and received time off for recovery.

    7m (23 feet) fall from an open hatch
  • Why did it happen?

    Supervisor could not see what was happening due to a visual obstruction, which prompted him to move closer.

    Fall prevention barriers were not suitable or sufficient due to unavailability of more robust barrier hardware onboard.

    Supervisor was too close to the hatch without sufficient fall protection.

    There were several trip hazards in the work area.

    A generic permit to work (PTW) was used for the task, rather than a specific PTW.

    Detailed safety talks carried out before the job stated focused on the lifting method, which may have detracted from properly reviewing the suitability of the barrier.

    Crew members locations on upper and main deck level
  • What did they learn?

    Conduct proper reviews of the suitability of barriers before starting work. Ensure the barriers not only highlight potential trip hazards, but also protect against falls.

    Ensure work permits cover specific and non-routine tasks.

    To cover potential lapses, create comprehensive checklists to confirm specific actions. Include checklists in pre-task assessments, checks and work permits.

    What learn - icon
  • Ask yourself or your crew

    What type of barriers do we have in place for today’s task?

    How do you know that the barriers in place offer adequate protection?

    What other hazards should you look out for during today’s job?

    Does your work permit cover all the tasks you are carrying out? What should you do if not?

    Ask your crew - icon
Published on 05/02/21 1820 Views

Vessel crew were offloading equipment from below-decks through a series of hatches. The supervisor leaned into the hatch to see the operations and fell 7m (23ft) to the deck below, fracturing his shoulder and ankle.