Work in confined spaces is 150 times more dangerous than the same jobs carried out elsewhere. An example is work-at-height, where what is important is how far you can fall regardless of where it is, as an unfortunate seafarer discovered to his cost on the 498 tonne trawler Darwin on 19 August 2009.
A report on the incident released by the Danish Maritime Authority concludes that the seafarer lost his grip on the ladder while climbing out of a RSW-tank, was fatally injured in the fall and did not recover consciousness.
Had he been wearing a fall arrest system he might have survived. Had he been monitored by a safety watcher help might have been called faster and, perhaps, increased the possibility of survival.
Says the DMA report: “During navigation to the fishing grounds the crew was preparing for fishery. Amongst other thing some of the RSW-tanks were to be cleaned. The leading seaman went forward to carry out this task. When he did not return as expected a crew member went forward to fetch him. The crew member found the leading seaman lying unconscious/immobile at the bottom of one of
”First aid and resuscitation were given. A rescue helicopter carrying a doctor arrived after approximately 45 minutes. After examining the leading seaman he was declared dead.
”There were no witnesses to the accident. It is in every probability plausible that the leading seaman died due the injuries he was subject to when he crawled up the ladder to exit the tank. The seaman was not using any kind of fall arrest systems (sic).
It is the opinion of the Division for Investigation of Maritime Accidents that the causes to the occupational accident were:
• Loss of grip and/or foothold when leaving the tank.
The Division for Investigation of Maritime Accidents has recommended:
That the owner draws up work risk assessments for any work in the tanks and the access to the tanks.
That the owner takes initiative to enhance the safety culture on board in order to ensure that precautionary measure is performed as prescribed .
The report is available here.