Monday Accidents & Lessons Learned: Loss of Life Aboard Fishing Vessel
A fishing vessel was preparing to shoot two nets over the stern when one of the nets became snagged. One of the crew members, wearing a hard hat and a waistcoat-style buoyancy aid without a collar, climbed over the rail, walked across the trawl deck, and freed the net. As the crew member crossed back over the trawl deck, he stumbled and fell on top of the other net. At that moment the vessel surged on the swell and the net ran out over the stern ramp, carrying the crew member overboard with it. He ended up in the water no longer wearing his hard hat and unconscious. The crew member was retrieved but, due to the vessel’s movement in the swell, the crew was unable to bring him back on board using the boarding ladder and the scramble net. A life raft was deployed, and the crew member was pulled into the raft and given cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The crew member was later winched aboard a rescue helicopter and brought ashore, where he was pronounced dead.
Why did it happen?
The crew member was on the trawl deck when the nets were being shot, which was contrary to onboard practice. The crew member’s hard hat had been fitted with a chin strap, but it is not known if the hat had been properly secured with the strap. Whether conscious or not, the personal flotation device worn by the crew member was of a design that did not keep his head out of the water. There was no effective arrangement in place to recover a person from the water.
What can we learn?
- The importance of complying at all times with onboard policies and procedures.
- The use of appropriate personal protective equipment, including safety harnesses, by crew members.
- Having in place a recovery device suitable for retrieving an unconscious person from the water.
- The importance of carrying out practice drills for man overboard recovery.
We learn about this accident through reports from the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations’ specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine and atmospheric pollution by ships.
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