Whether you are working on a commercial vessel or simply boarding one, there is a good chance you must navigate at least one gangway. These passage areas, which are regularly several feet above deck, connect parts of the ship.
If you fall from a gangway, you are vulnerable to a variety of serious injuries. The same is true if you encounter certain hazards when working on a gangway, stairway or other passage area. Typically, gangway accidents occur for four simple reasons.
1. Improper maintenance
Saltwater and ocean conditions can wreak havoc on commercial vessels. Therefore, as with other parts of the ship, crew members must regularly inspect and maintain gangways. If one is in disrepair, it may not support your weight. Consequently, you should never attempt to cross a damaged gangway.
2. Equipment interference
You may need a few tools or pieces of equipment to perform your job duties. When you are on a gangway, though, you must exercise additional care when working with the tools of your trade. After all, if equipment entangles with side rails, overhead coverings or a walking surface, you may not be able to maneuver to safety.
3. Inadequate training
Because gangways are common on commercial vessels, many crew members fail to see their potential danger. Still, captains have a duty to train everyone who works aboard their ships. If you have not received training about properly using gangways, your personal safety may be at risk. Even if you think you know how to safely navigate the gangways on your vessel, you should regularly review safety standards, requirements and best practices.
4. Severe weather
While individuals who work on ships can mitigate many of the dangers that gangways present, weather can be a bit of a wildcard. During high seas, you may lose your balance when crossing a gangway or working on one. Similarly, accumulated moisture or heavy winds may cause your boots to slip.
While you cannot control the weather, you must understand why gangway accidents tend to occur and work to prevent them every time you go to work.