8/22/2018: Marine Safety Alert 14-18, Gangways and ladders

The Inspections and Compliance Directorate issued Marine Safety Alert 14-18, “Don’t Forget About Gangways and Ladders,” following the death of a vessel pilot who died while boarding a vessel when its gangway separated from the vessel, causing two persons to fall into the water. Although the investigation is still underway and additional facts are being gathered, this casualty serves as another reminder that shipboard equipment that seems benign can quickly become a hazard to persons boarding and departing a vessel.

Commercial vessels can present hazards to mariners onboard if the risks are not recognized and mitigated. Considering the hazards presented by rotating machinery, electrical systems, potential fire, severe weather, etc.; one could easily underappreciate the risk that a simple gangway presents, leading mariners to become complacent. Because of injuries and fatalities on gangways, a number of organizations have developed gangway safety standards, requirements, and best practices.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, International Maritime Organization, Protection and Indemnity Clubs, owners and operators, and others have put forth various requirements and shared best practices to improve gangway safety.

Because of this recent fatality, the Coast Guard strongly recommends:

• Owners and operators, captains and mates review and implement the best practices from the above sources and comply with all the regulations applicable to your vessel.

• For vessel pilots, crews, vendors, or anyone boarding or departing a vessel, condition yourself to take a moment to examine the gangway, accommodation or pilot ladder. Look for potential hazards or deficiencies, and report them to senior personnel on board the vessel.

At all times, if there is any question about the safety of a gangway, DO NOT CROSS IT. Do not assume that any gangway crossing is routine.

This safety alert is provided for information purposes only and does not relieve any domestic or international safety, operational, or material requirement. Developed by the Prevention Officers of Sector Corpus Christi. Distributed by the Office of Investigations and Analysis. Questions may be sent to

View the Marine Safety Alert for other sources of safety information and guidance on this subject.

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.

Categories: Safety

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