On board offshore vessels, there are regulations which require both hands on handrail when possible, or at least one hand, when using the stairs. The requirement is made in order to reduce the number of accidents.

A consequent use of handrails on both sides of the stairs on board passengerships and other ships, is a good attempt in order to minimize the number of accidents, and which can be implemented for no cost at all. The handrails are already there!

The consequence of falling down stairs and ladders may even be fatal. Many incident reports the NMA have received, has led to long absence injuries for crew and passengers.


In one incident a crew member fell down the stairs, and sprained his ancle. The person fell while carrying food downstairs to the crew messroom.

In another incident the crew member missed the step. He fell backwards on his way down the stairs between two decks. The crew member hit the back of his head in a stairwell. He got a cut, 3-4 cm, on the back of his head, and had to get several stitches done. He also suffered a concussion.

In a third case on board a ferry, one of the crew members was on his way to walk down a ladder. He was carrying goods under his left arm, while his right arm was free. When he was about to walk down the ladder, the goods slipped out of his grip, and as a reflex, he tried to get hold of the goods.

The crew member overbalanced, and fell down the ladder with his head first. While falling, he managed to get a grip of the handrail with his right hand, which managed to brake the fall a little. But it lead to a major and acute load on his right shoulder. He was then laying with his head down in the ladder room, and the pain in his shoulder was so bad that he did not manage to sit up without help.

By the use of an UHF-radio, he was able to notify what had happened. Shortly after he was assisted by the chief and got out. The emergency room was contacted, and the injured person was picked up by the ambulance when the vessel came alongside the quay. The injured person was in pain and was marked by the incidence, but he was awake and clear.

Simple measures

Always think about your own safety when entering stairs or a ladder either way. On board a vessel, there are often motion when at sea. A piece of good advice is to use both hands on the rails, or in any other possible way be safe from falling.  Slip protection along the edge of the stairs may be a good measurement.

Stairs shall always be secured by using materials which reduce the danger of slipping in the stairway. If there is ice or snow (outside), it shall be removed.

If there are goods and/or personell elevator on board, this ought to be used for bringing goods from one elevation to another.