Posted on | March 11, 2011 | 2 Comments
This month, at the IMO Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Equipment, there is a chance for distinguished delegates to make an immediate impression on the number of seafarers killed or injured in lifeboat accidents.
They are still happening, these awful accidents when the very gear that is supposed to save lives is instrumental in taking it.
A group of industry bodies, BIMCO, CLIA, ICS, IFSMA, ITF,IPTA, the Nautical Institute and OCIMF , all of which might be described as having a lot of practical ship-operating experience, are proposing that IMO, without any delay whatsoever, requires that fall preventer devices (FPDs) are made mandatory.
An FPD, which is a stout wire strop, a sling, or perhaps a lock for the mechanism at each end of the boat, is not exactly rocket science, but a lifeline if something goes wrong with the hook and one end of the boat falls out of the davits when it is being lowered or raised. We never used to bother with lifelines, any more than we did safety clothing, but today, nobody would think of going overside, or aloft, without such insurance. Because lifelines save lives and prevent injury, just like car seat belts.
There are plenty of sensible ship operators who have fitted FPDs, because they are unsure of the on-load hooks which some friendly shipbuilder has saddled them with. The co-sponsors of the proposal make the point that this is an interim solution, pending agreed guidelines that will enable people to determine whether the hooks and mechanism they are employing is unsafe and should be replaced, or are perfectly safe and adequate.
The Guidelines for evaluation and replacement of lifeboat on load release mechanisms are awaiting some further amendments, which is even more reason for people to opt for the immediate precautions which FPDs represent. It doesn’t seem like a big deal or involve an enormous expenditure, and it could save many tears and vast expense. What’s the problem?