Working in the dark with poor lighting and a partially slippery deck near an opening in the railing harbours particular risks, especially when you’re on your own rigging what Germany’s Federal Bueau of Maritime Casualty Investigation, the BSU, refers to as “an indeed permissible but potentially hazardous pilot ladder construction” aboard the containership EMS Trader in its just-published report.
Nobody saw the victim fall, or knows the moment it happened, so the exact sequence of events that led to yet another grieving family cannot be determined with precision. It seems likely that the pilot ladder platform had not been properly hooked into place, that the victim had wrapped the cord used to lowr the platform around his hand and that the platform fell dragging him overboard.
What is quite apparent is that safety culture was inadequate.
Says the BSU summary: “At approximately 06151 on 4 November 2009, the EMS Trader, a container vessel flying the flag of Antigua and Barbuda, cast off from the Port of Hamburg and sailed downstream on the Elbe under pilotage.