Tripping hazards are often overlooked. Use of high visibility paint markings could improve safety on board a ship. The Nautical Institute illustrates this in a recent Mars Report in which a crew member tripped over an unmarked manhole cover.

The Nautical Institute gathers reports of maritime accidents and near-misses. It then publishes these so-called Mars Reports (anonymously) to prevent other accidents from happening. A summary of this incident:

Crew were assembled for a lifeboat drill. The lifeboat was lowered into the water and, once tested, was raised again into the stowed position. As the boat came close to its final position on the davit, a crew member moved forward to check the limit switch. During this movement he tripped on a nearby manhole cover. Falling forward, he impacted the davit structure with his face, injuring his lower lip and teeth.

While the company investigation found that the crew member was partially responsible due to carelessness, they also found that the manhole cover had not been painted with high visibility paint markings, which would help prevent unwanted trips. The manhole cover was subsequently painted in black and yellow zebra markings.

Advice from The Nautical Institute

  • Hazards in plain view – once again! This manhole cover was obviously a tripping hazard, yet it had gone undetected and unidentified even though a similar nearby tripping hazard around the lifeboat had already been identified and was zebra-painted.

Mars Reports

This accident was covered in the Mars Reports, originally published as Mars 202065, that are part of Report Number 337. A selection of this Report has also been published in SWZ|Maritime’s December 2020 issue. The Nautical Institute compiles these reports to help prevent maritime accidents. That is why they are also published on SWZ|Maritime’s website.

More reports are needed to keep the scheme interesting and informative. All reports are read only by the Mars coordinator and are treated in the strictest confidence. To submit a report, please use the Mars report form.