Preventing Gangway Accidents

When you get down to it, there’s really only so many ways to get on or off a ship.

Gangways, ladders, platforms, however your boat loads her crew, loading a ship tends to be a crowded and chaotic affair no matter how you handle your operations.

This sort of chaos also contributes to a high rate of accidents, as many crucial safety steps can be ignored or left incomplete while trying to get everything onboard a vessel. Gangways are a common site of maritime injuries and accidents, and can leave workers injured (or worse) and unable to complete their work and earn for their families.

If you want to know what kind of gangway accidents to keep an eye out for and how you can prevent them on your own vessel, read on:

Lack of lifejackets: A lot of vessels make the mistake of keeping their lifejackets in designated safety areas, which may or may not be the areas where work is actually performed. Make sure your gangway is properly equipped with visible and easily-accessed lifejackets for any worker that needs to be working near the edge or on deck during stormy conditions.

Lack of safety harnesses: In a similar vein, a lot of work needs to be done on the gangway or just off the side of the boat to attach ladders and help move people and equipment to the gangway. Safety harnesses need to be used at all times to prevent people from falling overboard or getting hurt using these ladders.

Improper platform positioning: One of the most dangerous parts of accessing a gangway is using the platforms on the side of the vessel to load cargo and passengers more quickly. While this adds a degree of convenience to boarding, these platforms need to be placed perfectly horizontally and locked into place to prevent slip-and-fall accidents, and stop workers from accidentally falling overboard.

Incorrectly followed weight limits: A lot of gangways tend to have unreasonable or unrealistic safe weight limits (or SWL), as much as one person per individual step. In many cases, the SWL of a gangway is tested under ideal factory conditions, conditions that you’re probably not going to encounter on the seas – consider the dynamic load and bouncing effect of any gangway limit before trying to pile on crew and cargo.

Missing stanchions: Stanchions are a short upright post designed to prop up a needed item, or in many cases to hold things like rigging and safety nets, and are an important part of supporting gangways. Keep a close eye on any stanchions to inspect them for damage or usability issues, and make sure to review how many stanchions are required by your gangway to ensure the installation was done as properly as possible.

These are just a handful of the things that need to be looked out for when using a gangway, and proper vigilance will protect you and your crew from injury. If you have been injured by an improperly-used or poorly-maintained gangway, contact O’Bryan Law today and let us fight for your rights as an injured maritime worker.