When it comes to using a ladder, The Nautical Institute advises to have a second person hold the base while you climb. In a recent Mars Report, a crew member was injured after performing a task on a ladder on his own.

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:

A vessel was at anchor near a port. As part of regular maintenance checks, a member of the engine room crew went into the funnel space to verify whether the funnel flaps were working.

In order to do this, he installed a ladder in the relatively confined space and climbed up, unassisted. He slipped from the ladder and fell to the deck. He suffered multiple minor injuries for which he had to be evacuated to a shore hospital.

Fall from ladder results in injury

Also read: Never climb a vertical ladder without continuous fall protection

Advice from The Nautical Institute

  • Routine, everyday tasks can be deceptive; we tend to discount the potential harm of hazards we have successfully avoided in the past.
  • A rule of thumb when using a ladder: have a second person hold the base while you climb. It is generally accepted that if the height of your climb is greater than 2/2.5 metres, use a safety harness.

Also read: Deadly man overboard while rigging pilot combination ladder

Mars Reports

This accident was covered in the Mars Reports, originally published as Mars 202315, that are part of Report Number 365. A selection of this Mars Report was also published in SWZ|Maritime’s April 2023 issue. The Nautical Institute compiles these reports to help prevent maritime accidents. That is why they are also published (in full) 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.

Also read: Does your pilot ladder meet requirements?