81 - 02/99 - Cabin Furniture Failures - Passenger Ships/Ferries

 We have recently been made aware of a claim where a married couple with a combined weight estimated at 150 kilos (attributed two-thirds to the wife and one-third to the husband) booked a cabin with top and bottom bunks for themselves and their 20 month-old baby for an overnight voyage. According to the couple, the husband slept on the top bunk and his wife and baby in the bottom bunk. About an hour after retiring to bed the top bunk collapsed about 30 cms but was prevented from collapsing on the mother & baby by its safety-wire.

A screw securing the top bunk was found to have worked loose.

A claim has been received on behalf of the mother & baby for trauma. Apart from doubting the mental anguish suffered by the claimants, the owners suspect that the top bunk may at the time of partial collapse have been occupied for purposes other than sleep by both the husband and wife. The initial doctor's report issued a few days after the incident did not indicate trauma but recommended a further examination at a later date.

Cabin furniture and fittings should be regularly checked, maintained and records of such checks kept if possible.


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