TB33 - Safety harnesses


Safety harnesses - working at height and overside

The Club’s Ship Inspectors often find that incorrect safety harnesses are being used for working at height and over the ship’s side.

Some ships are still supplied with belt type harnesses which can lead to severe damage to internal organs and also spinal damage or death if the wearer falls from any height.

Other vessels have the correct ‘5 point’ safety harnesses onboard but they are not fitted with ‘fall arrest’ devices on the safety lines. This can result in serious injury should the wearer fall onto the safety line. Fall arresters act as ‘shock absorbers’ and will slow the fall gradually over a short distance rather than instantaneously

The ISM Code section requires that:

“the Company should....assess all identified risks to its personnel…and establish appropriate safeguards...”

The Code of Safe Working Practices for Merchant Seamen states in chapter 4:

“It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that workers are provided with suitable personal protective equipment where it is needed... as a general rule, personal protective equipment should be supplied at no cost to the worker.”

Therefore, should a serious injury result from the use of the wrong type of safety harness, the employer can be held liable. The Club would strongly advise that the correct type of safety harnesses, including fall arrest equipment, are supplied to all vessels.

Read more in the document provided below for download.


Staff Author