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Slips, Trips and Falls

Over one third of all major accidents reported each year are caused as a result of a SLIP, TRIP or FALL. The trip type accident

is the single most common cause of injuries at work and on board ship. In the United Kingdom, whether ashore or afloat, the cost to employers is over £300 million per year in lost production and other employment costs.

SLIPS and TRIPS are the most common cause of non-fatal major injuries in

all areas of manufacturing and service industries and account for over half of all reported injuries. They also account for some 26% of all "time-lost" accidents at sea. FALLS are the next most common cause accounting for

11 % of all "time-lost" accidents at sea. Injuries that cause "three-day" or more time-lost accidents can be also very costly to you, the seafarer.

Anyone at work, but particularly

you the seafarer, can assist in reducing SLIp, TRIP and FALL HAZARDS through good health and safety arrangements and in most cases applying common sense. Effective solutions are very often cheap and simple and can lead to other benefits, such as increased efficiency.

Examining Slip, Trip and Fall Risks

All seafarers on board should assess the risks to themselves and others

who may be affected by their work. This helps to identify what needs to be done to maintain safe working areas.

Slip, Trip and Fall Risks on board should be an integral part of the risks examined for working areas on board prior to any job you do.

The Maritime and coastguard Agency recommend a FOUR step approach for the seafarer to follow:

Stpp 1

Look for SLIP, TRIP and FALL HAZARDS around the working areas on board.

Step 2

Decide who might be harmed and how. Who enters the work space or deck area? Are these workers Of visitors at risk?


Consider the risks. Are the precautions 'already being taken enough to deal with the risks? Is there anything, that can bedone to give a pro-active approach to minimising future risks?

Step 4

Report what you find. Report any problems you find to yo,ur Line Manag~r Qr your Representative on the Health and Safety Committee.

1 Why was the tank valve gland left seeping, creating a slip hazard across the deck?

2 Why did the seafarer create a trip hazard at low level?

Tray of bread left in the main access alleyway to the galley.

3 Dangerous stairway.

Common colours - top edge and steps.

4 Why did the seafarer place the bucket at the bottom of the ladder?


5 Why did the seafarer leave a pair of greasy gloves in the designated walkway?

6 Why did the seafarer obstruct a main escape route from the Engine Room?

7 Trip hazards in an electrical worki ng area.

8 Dangerous edge and slippery cleck area.

Slip and Fed I hazard.

9 Access ladder into dark area should be identified.

Fall hazard.

10 Com mon colours and varying

light conditions and shadows make these trip hazards appear invisible - hazards must be identified:

11 Why did the seafarer use the ladder as a storage place for ropes?

Slip from height hazard.

12 Why did the Seafarer leave

the mooring deck in an untidy condition with dangerous bights in the rope?

13 Hidden trip hazard (common colour door sill) and potential serious electric shock and burns hazard, due to unprotected end to top battery bank.

14 Why is the mat not secured to the deck?

Slip hazard.

15 Common colours and raised low level trip hazards in an emergency escape route.

16 Why was the scaffolding tower not correctly installed with proper safety rails and toe board?

17 Why did the Seafarer leave these chains on the roadway of a Ro-Ro ferry and in front of a crew/passenger access?

Trip hazard and potential Vehicle Damage Hazard.

18 Why did the seafarer leave a bucket of diesel oil on the plates?

Moveable object hazard and potential slip hazard.

19 Why did the seafarer leave the ladder access unguarded?

Dangerous fall hazard onto veh icle decks. Also, pipe trip hazard not clearly identified.

20 Unguarded walkway and unidentified level change.

Fall from height and trip hazard.

21 Moveable object hazard and potential slip hazard.

Drum and oil jug should be tied down.

Reducing Slip, Trip & Fall Risks


• Water

• Oils

• Gels

• Granules

• Powder



• Mats

• Rugs

• CarpetTiles

• Carpets


• Electrical cables

• Moori ng ropes

• Heaving lines

• Temporary hanging safety signs

Suggested Action

• Clean spill up immediately

• Liquids and Gels may be grease or oil based - ensure a suitable de-greasing cleaning agent is used

• Granules and Powders may be swept and/or vacuumed up

• After cleaning the deck or floor plates the surface may be wet or damp for some time

• Use appropriate safety signs to indicate to others on board (crew members / contractors / passengers) the condition of the cleaned area and if necessary rope off the area

• Ensure engine room plates, stairways, landings and walkways are free from grease and oil

• Assess causes and treat accordingly by using the appropriate chemical or cleaning method

• Ensure that mats are securely fixed and have appropriate "fiddles" around their edges

• Ensure mats have an appropriate safe backing,

with enough friction to suit the surface on which they are to be laid

• Ensure mats, rugs and carpets do not have curling edges

• Position portable equipment in such a manner as to avoid cables and leads crossing deck and floor plate areas and walkways

• Use cable covers and secure to the surface in such a manner that a slip hazard is not created

• Do not allow cables or ropes to trail dangerously across decks

• Bights must be removed from mooring rope and ropes laid out in a correct and safe manner



• Waste bins

• Miscellaneous rubbish and waste




• Waste bins should be secured in such a manner as to prevent spillage over deck and plate areas in moderate and heavy seas

• Miscellaneous waste in plastic bags must be cleared as soon as practicable

• Ensure that safety chains or safety bars, if fitted, are always used

• Ensure that platform edges and raised lips are appropriately identified to satisfy all light and approach conditions

• Ensure that platform surfaces are non-slip and that friction pads are fitted where appropriate

• Ensure that temporary tower platform edges are fitted with toe-boards to prevent loose gear from falling to deck below

• Ensure ladders, fixed rungs, stairways and landings are secure and free from oil and grease

• Ensure that fixed vertical ladders are fitted appropriately with hoops and that these hoops are regularly inspected for damage or deformation

• Ensure that for any temporary work carried out at height a Permit-To-Work is issued

• Ensure that for any temporary work carried out at height the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is issued

• Landings and stairways painted in the same or common colour should have their edges identified

• Carpeted stairways and linoleum stairways should have top landing and steps identified with appropriate high visibility nosing

• Metal edges and steps can be identified with edge paint. Use a high visibility paint or contrasting colour

• Wear suitable footwear

• Warn others of risks by using appropriate safety signs

• Locate appropriate doormats where these changes are likely

22 Why was the cover plate covering the hawse pipes not refitted after maintenance?

Dangerous fall hazard.

23 Why was the oil jug not secured?

This has created a moveable object hazard and a potential slip hazard.

24 Why was the waste bin not secured?

It is a moving object and trip hazard.

25 Why was the cleaning equipment not cleared away after use?

If this equipment moved across the deck in moderate to heavy seas, it would create potential trip and slip hazards.

26 Why is this engine room walkway being used as a storage area?

Multiple trip hazards created by this gear compromise the safety

of watchkeeping and maintenance personnel. This gear should have been stored in the appropriate

safe storage area.

27 Why did the seafarer not replace the floor plate after carrying out a bilge inspection?

A fall hazard such as this could lead to the serious injury of a seafarer. This area should have been roped off and appropriate temporary safety signs displayed.

28 Why did the seafarer place used linen sacks at the bottom of th is important escape route stairway?

Visitors to the vessel

Good working practice

Get the conditions on board right from the start; it wi II make deal i ng with Slip, Trip and Fall Risks easier and could prevent you from having a serious accident. It will also assist greatl yin protecti ng the safety of your fellow seafarers.

Further Reading

• The Code of Safe vvorking Practices for Merchant Seamen

• Statutory Instrument 7997 No. 2962 - The Merchant Shipping and Fishing Vessels (Health and Safety at Work) Regulations 7997

• Statutory Instrument 200 'I No. 54 - The Merchant Shipping and Fishing Vessels (Health ane! Safety at Work) (Amendment) Regulations 200 7

Further Information

Maritime and Coastguard Agency Spring Place

105 Commercial Road SOUTHAMPTON SOlS lEG

Tel: 023 8032 9100 Fax: 023 8032 9298


Other enquiries relating to seafarer health and safety should be directed to:

Seafarer Health and Safety Branch Maritime and Coastguard Agency

Tel: 023 8032 9227

Fax: 023 8032 9251

E-mail: seafarer.h&



Maritime and Coastguard Agency

The leaflet contains notes on good practice which are not compulsory but which you may find helpful in considering what you need to do.

Prepared and publ ished by the

Seafarer Health & Safety Branch of the

Maritime and Coastguard Agency

Published March 2006 MCN150