While preparing the pilot embarkation station, a seaman tragically fell over board and drowned.
In the early morning, a container vessel left port under river pilotage. It was still dark and the temperature was about 5° C. An ordinary seaman went to the pilot station in order to prepare it for the pilot transfer. He started preparing the station by himself because the colleague assigned to help him was apparently delayed at the manoeuvring station. While deploying the platform alone, the later deceased fell overboard. When his colleague came to help him, he found the pilot gate open and noticed that the platform was missing. He informed the master who sounded general alarm. The search operation that was immediately launched remained without success.
The body of the missing seaman was found near the accident scene four weeks later.
The casualty investigation found that the deceased seaman cannot have been aware of the danger he exposed himself to by single-handedly preparing the pilot station. No safety belt or harness was used while working at the open pilot gate making a slip on the wet deck fatal.
Works carried out as a matter of routine, like preparing the pilot embarkation station, always pose a potential hazard as they are regular tasks that are in many cases underestimated.
The vessel’s operator should after conducting a risk assessment develop a procedure for the preparation of the pilot station.
Regularly held safety meetings should be used to continuously sharpen the crew’s awareness of not always apparent routine dangers and the preventive actions to be taken in the sense of Personal Protective Equipment and back up by fellow seamen.
The bridge should always be informed if any routine tasks are different than usual, giving the superiors a chance to evaluate the specific situation and maybe change the given orders.
The operator is recommended to implement an alternative pilot station setup avoiding an open pilot gate during preparation work.
Generally, all standard and routine tasks should be added to the Safety Management Manual.