Case 1 – While anchored at a transshipment point, an iron ore carrier had rigged a combination ladder for vessel access. A person commenced climbing the pilot ladder while the crew were still adjusting its length. The person fell seven metres onto the fore deck of the pilot launch and died.
Investigation found that the pilot ladder was correctly rigged, it was suspected that the deceased person was inexperienced with using pilot ladders and may have become exhausted before reaching the top causing him to lose his grip and fall.
Case 2 – Two crew members entered the gangway to free the wire and while doing so, the handrail to the shore-side handrail suddenly fell. One of the crew lost his balance falling off the gangway to the pier five metres below fracturing his thighbone and kneecap. He was not wearing a safety harness and fall arrest system device.
This incident was a result of known problems with the gangway not being fixed. Issues with the lifting wire occurred frequently. These problems remaining unaddressed are a sign of a systemic failure in implementing the safety management system.
Factors influencing safe vessel access
- The requirements for safely rigging vessel access equipment are set out in MSC. 1/ Circ.1331 and SOLAS regulation II-1/3-93.
- Gangways should not be used at an angle of inclination greater than 30 degrees from the horizontal.
- Ship accommodation ladders should not be used at angles greater than 55 degrees from the horizontal, unless designed and constructed for use at angles greater than these and marked as such.
- Adequate lighting, lifebuoys and a mounted safety net sufficient to prevent falls must also be provided.
- Accommodation ladders and gangways shall be positioned well forward of propeller and avoid the lower part of the ladder and gangway overhanging off steep ship sides.
- The picture 3 shows a poorly selected access method and an unsafe rigging accommodation ladder.
- The ladder is rigged at more than 55 degrees from the horizontal.
- It is suspended over the sea.
- There are more people on the ladder than the load rating of the gangway.
- There is a high risk of a person losing their footing and causing others to fall with them.
- Allow time for safe rigging of access equipment, particularly in time pressured situations.
- Aware of safety precautions and PPE to be worn when assigned to rig the pilot ladder and/or accommodation ladder·
- Maintain good health condition to be able to embark and disembark from the vessel using the access to the vessel (Pilot ladder and/or accommodation ladder).Ensure PMS routine for gangway and accommodation ladders are diligently followed.
- It is important to conduct a risk assessment for rigging, adjusting and derigging of pilot ladder and/or accommodation ladders.
- Ensure PMS routine for gangway and accommodation ladders are diligently followed.
- This should involve regular inspection of welds, distortion, cracks and corrosion. Other suggested areas of focus include – moving parts should move freely and are greased appropriately. – regularly inspecting the underside of gangways and accommodation ladders. – careful attention given to the hoist wire, including the dates for renewal of wires used to support vessel access, as per SOLAS II-1/3-9 – Responsible officer to verify check the accommodation ladder and gangway each time after they are rigged.