Poor design – a tripping hazard with the potential for a fatal fall from height.
What the Reporter told us:
I piloted a vessel into port this morning. As I walked out to the bridge wing in the dark I was confronted by a platform approximately 200mm off the deck – despite the yellow paint on the edge it was almost invisible. Once on the platform I had the coaming of the bridge at mid-thigh level as opposed to hip level. Being some 26m above the wharf, this was quite unnerving.
Upon stepping off and proceeding to the bridge during berthing my foot slipped off the outboard edge. This was due to the fact that there was a gap off approximately 200mm between the platform and the solid upright part of the bridge wing.
I am not sure why the ship was built with this platform – the only thing it appears to do is make it easier for a person to fall off the bridge wing.
The reporter passed the incident to Port State Control who visited the vessel to follow up and conduct a scheduled inspection. They commented that, remarkably, this ship is some 13 years old yet the matter has never been raised. The International Convention on Load Lines 1966, Regulation 25(2) Protection of Crew states that a minimum bulwark height of 1000mm from the deck is required. With the addition of the deck platform the height was reduced to about 880mm which does not comply with this regulation.
The vessel’s classification society also stipulate that for bridge wings, freeboard decks and superstructure decks, the minimum height of bulwarks must be 1000mm.
A deficiency was raised with a direction to comply with the regulation as soon as practicable. Until then a risk assessment must be completed with appropriate measures taken to ensure there is no risk of falling or tripping hazard to any persons occupying the area. The company’s Port Captain, on board at the time, agreed to follow up accordingly.
The non-compliant design should have been identified in a flag state survey. A risk assessment should have been undertaken and a Management of Change process applied at the design stage. This should have been approved by the ship managers. This report should raise the awareness of all mariners about the need for a minimum bulwark height of 1,000mm, and the inherent dangers of tripping over obstacles at night.