Confidential Human Factors Incident Reporting Programme
Report Title A shortcut they’ll remember for a long time
The yacht was moored alongside. There was a very high tide, and the swimming platform was at the level of the quay. On deck, a cleaning crew were scrubbing the teak swimming platform with a 2-part acid solution.
The chef went ashore for some provisions but realised he had forgotten something, so returned to the yacht. As he jumped from the quayside to the swimming platform, he slipped on the wet deck and twisted his ankle before falling into the water. The chef quickly recovered but had to take ten days off to allow his ankle to heal.
Psychologically the chef would have felt inconvenienced in returning to the ship, so took a short-cut by stepping from the quayside to the swimming platform instead of using the gangway, which was longer, causing the injury. The chef’s haste and focus on collecting the forgotten item were both distractions, and he either did not notice that the deck was wet or did not pause to consider that this could make it slippery to walk on.
Although the reporter does not say which side of the vessel the chef fell in from, unless they had slid the entire breadth of the vessel, they likely fell between the yacht and the quayside, where they could have suffered severe impact injuries or even crushing.
The superyacht industry is very focused on image and dislikes having areas of the yachts roped off while the teak decks are treated; as the stanchions are removed while the decks are treated, it is anyway often not possible to rope areas off. The gangway should always be the only safe means of access to and from a yacht.
The chef was unaware that the work was taking place. This should have been briefed to all the officers and crew at the daily work planning meeting.
Time pressure: It is easy to put yourself under time pressure to meet an artificial target, but this also increases your risk of an accident.
Local practices: Jumping from the quayside is a bad habit and is fraught with risks due to the movement of the yacht, which can be unexpected. Don’t do it!
Alerting: A morning meeting where the work activities are communicated to all officers and crew would have alerted the chef that the swimming platform area was not to be used. A warning sign should also be considered.
Distraction/Situational awareness: Be aware of your surroundings – even when in a hurry!