Accidents at Sea: Death in the Elevator Shaft

Death on board ship is a matter of great concern which mainly reflects carelessness and lack of personal safety. The working environment on board ship is not a friendly one and therefore seafarers are required to give additional importance to personal safety.

This horrible accident took place on a container ship with elevator facility. The deceased person could have been easily saved if proper safety procedures would have been followed. However, the incident is an eye-opener which states that even the smallest mistake on ship can lead to extreme condition like death.

marine elevator Incident

The incident took place when the ship was at the port. One of the shore authority officials came to meet the ship’s master who was at the “E” level deck. While returning, the person opens the outer elevator door and steps inside without observing that the elevator cage is not there. He falls into the elevator tunnel and dies on-the -spot because of head injury and multiple fractures.


The ship’s elevator had been giving trouble for a long time and thus the electrical officer was assigned to look into the matter while the ship was at the port. The elevator cage was stuck at the “A” deck level a few days before the fatal incident took place. The electrical officer was working alone as the ship’s staff was busy with other port and cargo formalities.

Now generally, in order to ensure the safety of the elevator and personnel, it’s not possible to open the outer door of the elevator unless and until the cage is on the same level. However, in order to look into the problem and to troubleshoot, the electrical officer had opened the outer door of the elevator space on level “E” using the emergency door and the key. He then left the door partially open and went to the elevator machinery room which was on the same deck but outside the accommodation area.

Unfortunately during the same time, the shore person approached the elevator and probably was saying good-bye to the master while entering the elevator space, not observing that the cage is not there on the deck. The shore official thus lost his life that day because of sheer human negligence.


The shore official might have been easily saved if the electrical officer would have put at “work in progress” or “Do not enter” sign on the outside of the elevator door. He could have also asked a ship’s staff to stand outside the door to prevent anyone from stepping inside. A life was lost because of carelessness and human error.

Seafarers often forget the importance of following safety procedures while working. This has lead to several fatal accidents on ships in the part. Moreover use of safety signs is also overlooked most of the time. It is therefore necessary that safety signs are therefore used on board ships whenever required.

Enhance your safety on board ships by downloading our free ebooks – The Ultimate Guide to Personal Safety on Ships and The Ultimate Guide to Safety Signs on Ships.

Image credits : ship-technology

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  1. Sheer negligence leading to unfortunate incident.

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