Real Life Incident: Crew Member Falls From 14 Metre Inside Tank, Loses Life

A tanker was in port for repairs and drydocking. In preparation for extensive hot work during the repairs, some deck crew were assigned to clean cargo tank number two port. In the morning, a toolbox meeting was held for the ship’s senior management – but not the men intended to do the actual cleaning work.

victim fall 14 meters
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The crew member assigned the cleaning duty entered the tank in the afternoon. After a few hours he came out for a break. Before re-entering the tank, he asked another crew member to give him a hand in mopping out the tank. The second agreed and, as it was now raining, the two crew hastened their pace to get to the entrance to the tank and inside. The two entered the tank, but as the second descended he saw the first fall over the guardrail of the tank access ladder. The victim had fallen about 14 m. The alarm was raised, a rescue team mustered and shoreside medical help called. Unfortunately, a little while later the victim was pronounced dead.

Lessons learned

– As with the previous report, the safety leadership and safety culture on this ship appear to have been weak. Not only did the workers involved in the task not attend the toolbox meeting but the report suggests that enclosed space entry procedures were non-existent.
– In his haste to get out of the rain, the crew member did not pay sufficient attention to his safety. Rushing a task rarely gives good results.
– It is not always obvious that a task involving a descent is actually work at height.

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