LTI – Crew Member Trips and Falls from Stairs

A crewmember was leaving the bridge deck and took the internal stairs down.

He rapidly descended the stairs facing forward. After a few steps he did not place his foot fully on the step resulting him to slip and fall backwards with his shoulder unfortunately hitting hard on the hand rail, before he fell down to the lower deck. The impact resulted in a dislocated shoulder, which was treated in the nearby hospital. Obviously, the injuries could have been much more severe.

Preliminary findings and possible causes:

  • The stairs to the bridge were quite steep as common on older vessels.
  • The crewmember rushed down the stairway, facing forward and not paying attention to correctly  positioning his  feet on the steps

Immediate corrective/ preventive action:

  • Always walk calmly do not haste and ensure you place the feet fully on the stairs.
  • Always one hand for holding on to the handrail as this can prevent a full fall downwards and slow the speed if a fall occur. In this case the handrail was used.
  • It is recommendable that steep stairs are descended backwards (facing head towards the stair) like on a ladder. During this a 3 point contact can be made with feet and hands. It can be assessed if a sign for this should be posted were stairs seem to be steep.
  • It is recommendable to assess if a chain or bar could be placed at the top of bridge stairs. Not only to prevent rushing down the stairs, but also to guard the stair opening during dark hours.