Safety first

During the voyage, the safety of navigation and the working conditions of the crew should always come first, reminds the Seafarers Union of Russia. That is why it is so important to follow all safety procedures, which never appear for nothing, but are based on the bitter and often tragic experience of seafarers.

In October last year, an accident occurred on a Russian-flagged vessel which was anchored in stormy conditions in the Kerch Strait, waiting for the weather to improve. One of the crewmembers disappeared, it turned out when the he did not take up the night watch. His colleagues had last seen him in the engine room about an hour earlier. Following the procedures, alarm was sound, the captain reported the disappearance of a person to the company, rescue operations began, but it did not give results.

Since the incident occurred during the period of the seafarer's work under the contract, according to Article 227-231 of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation, it was subject to investigation and recording. The shipowner, who signed a collective agreement with the Seafarers Union of Russia, as prescribed by Russian law, informed all parties interested in the investigation, including the Seafarers Union of Russia, and began preliminary preparations for the investigation. Among other specialists, the commission also included Evgeniy Khizhnyak, the SUR Chief Technical Inspector of Labor.

He said that the vessel was in good technical condition at the time of the incident, all the railings were in place, there were no foreign objects on the deck, no any damage either. The Commission found that the seafarers worked on the ship for 47 days. During this period, he did not conflict with any of the crewmembers either on domestic or workplace grounds. From the information collected, the commission concluded that it was workplace related incident, but there were no persons from the ship administration and the company responsible for this accident.

Evgeniy Khizhnyak added that in January the sailor's body was found, the examination established that he died from drowning.

No one knows for sure what really happened. Nevertheless, this incident is another confirmation that it is not worth going on deck in adverse weather conditions, if the safety of the ship and crew does not directly depend on it. Work should be postponed until the weather improves, or until the next port call. If, however, it is absolutely necessary, then first a full risk assessment should be carried out and the captain's permission should be obtained. Crewmembers who work on deck must wear life jackets suitable for performing the prescribed actions, a safety belt and all necessary personal protective equipment. The watchmen on the navigation bridge should be informed in advance, conduct constant monitoring and be in radio contact with the seafarers working on deck,- says the SUR chief technical inspector of Labor. The SUR reminds: non-compliance with the rules and safety requirements during the voyage can lead to serious injuries and death of sailors, who are well waiting for relatives and friends on shore.