Accidents At Sea: Falling Off Engine Room Staircase

“Accidents at the Sea” is a new series on Marine Insight wherein we would explain real life accidents on board ships which have resulted in loss of human life and property, injury, or near death situations.

This series by no means is to scare people working at the sea but to make them aware of the kind of accidents that take place on the ships so that preventive measures can be taken to avoid them.

This series is also a appeal to the seafarers to share their real life experiences in the comment section below the article so that both young and experienced personnel can learn from them.

As personal safety is the key to avoid almost all kinds of accidents on board ships, this first incident of the series deals with the same subject.

Real life Incident

People working in the engine room have to use the engine room staircase several times during their working hours. However, many a times they forget to follow the simple personal safety rules which unfortunately lead to accidents.

This incident happened on one of the cargo ships, wherein the ship’s fitter was assigned the work to remove a leaky sea water pipe at the bottom platform of the engine room.

In order to avoid additional rounds of the workshop, the fitter carried the tool box in one hand and the welding rod along with the cutting torch in the other, leaving none of his hands free to hold the railing while climbing down the stairs to reach the bottom platform.

Unfortunately his leg slipped and he crashed down to the floor, ending up with severe head injury in spite of wearing a helmet. He also got intense bruises and scratching all over his hands and legs, and had to discontinue his contract because of the injury.


The fitter made the most common mistake which several engine officers make – not keeping one of their hands free to hold the railing while using the stairs.

Though he was wearing the safety helmet at the time of the accident, he had not tightened the belt to fasten the helmet. The helmet thus came off while he slipped, injuring his head.

It is important that ship personnel are briefed about the importance of personal safety along with the necessity to keep one of their hands free to hold the railing while using staircase on ships.

If the need arise they should not be hesitant to make additional trips of the workshop to get the necessary tools and items.

Important Articles on Personal Safety for seafarers

Measures taken during shipboard operation for safety of ship’s crew

Ensuring personal safety during Mooring Operation on ships

Personal Protective Equipment used on board ships

Personal safety for container safety lashing

Download our FREE eBook: The Ultimate Guide to Personal Safety on Ships 


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  1. Yes! The engine room stares are narrow and its all hard metal. Even a 6 meter fall can be fatal.

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