Saturday, 1 February 2020

MAIB highlights risks of drivers remaining in cabs on ferry vehicle decks

Roger Hailey | 
Renewed warning follows report into the cargo shift on the P&O Ferries-operated ro-ro passenger ferry European Causeway during heavy weather in December 2018

Truck drivers who remain in their cabs on the vehicle deck when a ferry is at sea put themselves and other passengers at risk.
The renewed warning from the UK chief inspector of marine accidents follows a Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report into the cargo shift on the P&O Ferries-operated ro-ro passenger ferry European Causeway during heavy weather in December 2018.

A statement from the MAIB said that the vessel rolled heavily in very rough seas and very high winds during its voyage from Larne, Northern Ireland to Cairnryan, Scotland.
“The violent motion caused several freight vehicles to shift and nine to topple over. This resulted in damage to 22 vehicles, some damaged severely.
“At least six freight vehicle drivers had remained in their cabs on the vehicle decks during the crossing and four were found in cabs of vehicles that had toppled over. One driver was trapped and had to be freed by the emergency services when the ship arrived in Cairnryan.”
The MAIB said that drivers remaining in their vehicles during a ferry passage was “in contravention of international regulations and company policy, was not uncommon and is an industry-wide issue”.
The MAIB chief inspector said: “The MAIB investigation identified that the forecast weather conditions had not been sufficiently considered when setting the course of the ship, nor the application of lashings to freight vehicles loaded aboard.
“The investigation further highlighted the problem of freight drivers remaining in their cabs on the vehicle deck when the ferry is at sea. Drivers remaining in their vehicles not only put themselves at risk, they place at risk other passengers, and anyone who has to rescue them.
“Perhaps, most importantly, crucial emergency responses, such as to a fire, can be delayed until all passengers are accounted for.”
The chief inspector has now written to the senior management of short sea ferry companies around the UK to “further highlight” the dangers posed by freight drivers remaining on vehicle decks, and to encourage them to “take a collective approach to eliminate this dangerous practice”.

In addition to the work that they have already undertaken, the MAIB has recommended that P&O Ferries “enhance their safety management system, to provide ship’s crew with better guidance concerning the stowage and lashing of freight vehicles in adverse weather conditions”.
The vessel operator said in a statement: “P&O Ferries accepts the recommendations of the Marine Accident Investigation Branch in full.  The company has already updated the Safety Management System (SMS) and included the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) Ro-Ro guidance.”

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