Nov 272011

Most of us have done it sometime: turned to face the steps we’re about to climb down and slipped on our toes. In the following account from Marine Safety Forum the injuries were quite serious.

“We recently had an incident where an experienced sailor fell down some stairs and seriously injured his back.

“The injured person, IP, was on his way to go and assist in launching the Daughter Craft. He came out of his cabin and went to descend a set of internal steps.

“At the top of the steps he turned so that he could descend the step facing them. As he did this, his foot slipped out from under him resulting in him falling down the stairs feet first. His feet hit a fire door at the bottom of the steps that was closed. This compressed his spine resulting in him receiving a serious compression injury.

The IP was airlifted to hospital for treatment.

  1. The steps were in good condition
  2. The IP’s footwear was in good condition
  3. The lighting was good and the stairwell was well lit
  4. There was no spillages on the steps and no substance that would have caused a hazard

There was no obvious defect that could have caused this. The IP interview suggests that as the IP turned at the top of the steps, the ball of his foot over hung the top step. This gave him insufficient purchase so when his full weight was put on the ball of his foot and he turned, it slipped causing
him to fall.

“The IP was also following established Merchant Navy advice when descending the stairs which is to turn and descend facing them. He had been on the vessel for a number of years and had navigated these stairs thousands of times during that period without incident.

This incident highlights not only the dangers associated with simple movement about vessels, but also the need to ensure we take care and time whenever we are on stairs or steps onboard a vessel.

Please discuss this at your next safety meeting. Discuss the general movement about the vessel and make sure that you carry out a good safety inspection on all stairs, alleyways”.

Here is the safety flash

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