20th May 2024

Working at height without any PPE

Initial Report

Our reporter sent a photograph of a crewmember working at height outboard of the vessel, engaged in window cleaning. They were not wearing any fall arrest equipment, and if they had slipped, they would have fallen approximately 10m to the concrete quayside below and been seriously injured or killed.
They were contacted by a nearby crew on another yacht to wear protection, but they refused to take any action.

CHIRP Comment

CHIRP has raised concerns about the incident with the appropriate Flag State for the vessel and received a very positive response. An investigation was carried out, and the
DPA investigated the incident.
CHIRP was notified that equipment was available and that training had been provided to all the crew. However, safety gear was not worn, and no permit to work or operational supervision was evident. The crew member in question was dismissed from the vessel because of not adhering to the requirements. There is never any comfort in learning that a crew member was dismissed from the vessel, as it usually implies a failure in the management system on board.
The investigation revealed that the DPA was, in fact, the Master of the vessel, which is entirely wrong in terms of defining the DPA’s role according to the ISM Code.
The DPA serves as a crucial link between the ship and shore management. Their primary responsibilities include ensuring that the safety management system is implemented and maintained effectively, providing support and guidance to the ship’s management, conducting audits and reviews of the system, and serving as the liaison with external parties, including flag states and classification societies.
In this case, the revelation that the DPA was also serving as the vessel’s Master represents a conflict of interest and a violation of the ISM Code. The DPA’s role is to be independent of operational duties aboard the vessel to maintain impartiality and oversight.

Key Issues relating to this report


Crewmembers on vessel superstructure, against a background of high-rise buildings in the distance

Not actual event. For illustration only

Culture – This incident highlights a poor safety culture where senior management does not drive safety. There was a lack of operational supervision. The work being undertaken by the crew falls under the category of working at height and necessitates a Permit to Work.
Alerting – When third parties warn you about how unsafely you are operating and nobody from your vessel raises any concern, there is something clearly wrong with your shipboard safety management.
Complacency – No matter how many times you have carried out such an unsafe act, at some time, you will not be so fortunate and will slip and fall.
Local Practices – Follow local good practices. You are ultimately responsible for your safety. Do you know your DPA and their contact details for your vessel? Is the DPA of your vessel the master?

  • Complacency
  • Culture
  • local_practices