Safety Moment #55: Lifeboat Fall

Lifeboat drill leads to fatalities

This YouTube video shows an incident in which one man died and six others suffered lost-time injuries. Briefly, this is the time line.

  • The seven men boarded a lifeboat as part of a safety drill.
  • The lifeboat was launched without incident.
  • The lifeboat was then retrieved with the men still on board.
  • As the vessel approached the top of the davits the on-load release mechanism failed.
  • The aft hook latch failed open. The lifeboat pivoted through 90°, thus transferring the entire load to the bow hook, which then failed.
  • The lifeboat fell into the sea upside down.

There are many lessons to be learned from this incident, particularly to do with the design and operation of the release gear. However, the principal lesson is that the men should not have been in the lifeboat at all. A quotation that threads through these Safety Moments is, “If a man’s not there, he can’t be killed”. This incident is an example of why that way of thinking is so important.

A second important lesson to be learned is to do with the dangers of safety. The incident happened because management was trying to improve safety.

You are welcome to use this Safety Moment in your workplace. But please read Use of Safety Moments.

Copyright © Ian Sutton. 2020. All Rights Reserved.