An incident was reported recently of a member of the crew carrying out work on the lifeboat davits. This person went up the ladder to the catwalk belonging to the platform where the lifeboats are located, and then opened the hatch to the platform. Next, the person stepped out onto the platform without double-checking whether the hatch was in the closed position.

While carrying out the work, the person moved closer and closer to the open hatch in the catwalk. The person was not aware of the fact that the hatch was open, and fell with half of the body down the ladder. The person is badly beaten on the left-hand side of the upper body and the left thigh.

Not safely and properly closed

The hatch to the catwalk by the lifeboats was not safely and properly closed at the time of the accident. Also, this was not checked by the crew before the work started.

In cases like this, where the job is done by one person only, it is easy to think that "I'm sure I will remember that I left that hatch open". However, when you get into the task it is easy to forget that the hatch is not closed. Then you can step into the hole by accident, and the injuries could be severe since there is often a vertical ladder on the inside of the hatch.

If it is not possible to close off the area using a gate or chain by the hacth in the deck or on platforms/walkways, it is vital that the hatch is closed as quickly as possible after use. There should, however, be put up barriers around the open hatch while in use. These barriers should be marked with the duration of the closure and the name of the person(s) who can be contacted. If the entering of the hatch only lasts a short while, it is possible to have someone guard the area. 

Putting up a sign

Another incident was reported of an annual safety drill on board. This safety drill included fire-fighting, evacuation and emergency towing for the crew on board the vessel.

The engine-room attendant and the ordinary seafarer were at the foredeck to prepare for the emergency towing. The ordinary seafarer had opened the hatch of the starboard tank and fetched the tow hawser which was there ready for use. The ordinary seafarer then turned and grabbed the rope to attach it to the starboard bollard. Next, the ordinary seafarer took a step back and fell down the hatch since the crew member had forgotten to close the hatch of the tank. The ordinary seafarer suffered injuries to his side, arm and back.

The vessel stated that in order to do better, they will put up a sign on the bulkhead by the hatch saying: "The hatch must be closed when not in use."