In a measure of the continued safety risks posed by lifeboat accidents, BIMCO has issued a reminder that seafarers should use safety devices that prevent on-load release hooks from prematurely releasing the boat before it is lowered to the water.
Lifeboat accidents resulting in fatalities and serious injuries are all too frequent, despite efforts in recent years to reduce them, BIMCO noted. Most of the accidents happen in boats using conventional davits and on-load release systems. However, recently other parts of the suspension and lifting systems have been identified as points of failure too, particularly the wire rope falls on larger lifeboats.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) recommends the use of FPDs because so many recent lifeboat and rescue boat accidents have resulted in fatalities and injuries to seafarers. This constitutes an unacceptable risk and the use of FPDs is intended to be an interim measure to reduce this risk while new, safe IMO approved systems are developed. However, this process will take some years, and so BIMCO recommends FPDs for the intervening time until approval is secured.
"We have seen too many accidents with lifeboats resulting in fatalities and injuries. This pamphlet provides the master and crew with solid, experience-based advice on the use of fall preventer devices (FPDs) during lifeboat operations," said Aron Sorensen, Head of Maritime Technology & Regulation at BIMCO. "We sincerely hope that this pamphlet can help to reduce and avoid such tragic accidents in the futur."
The Avoid Lifeboat Accidents pamphlet gives clear guidance on how to prevent accidents with lifeboats and rescue boats equipped with on-load release systems. It advises whether additional precautions in the form of FPDs are appropriate, and if so, when and how to use them safely and effectively when launching and recovering the boat. Other failure devices, and new innovative hook systems are examined too.