Norsafe Calls for Thorough Lifeboat Training
Lifeboat manufacturer Norsafe is calling attention to safety issues in abandon-ship drills – specifically, the danger that crews may not understand how to use the equipment in the event of a real emergency.
“A lifeboat is your last chance to evacuate a vessel when it is not safe to be onboard or use other means of evacuation, so it is vital that crew are properly trained on the [system] and take part in regular drills,” said Endre Eidsvik, SVP of Service for Norsafe.
A report issued earlier this year by academics at the Seafarers International Research Centre found that tight vessel schedules often did not allow sufficient time for drills and crew were often too scared to take part as they had not been properly trained in using the equipment.
Improper operation and other factors have led to multiple fatalities during lifeboat drills in recent years, and the union Nautilus says that it does not even recommend getting into a boat for a drill unless certain precautions are taken first – an illustration of the extent of the concern among the seafaring community.
"The dangers associated with lifeboat drills are well known, and there is now extensive evidence to show the scale of fatalities arising from accidents. In the light of this, Nautilus has consistently advised members not to be in lifeboats when they are being raised or lowered, unless strops are in place," said Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson in a statement in September.
Norsafe emphasized that safe operation of any lifeboat system requires that the crew are thoroughly familiar with the equipment. As an available option for vessel operators, the firm highlighted its two facilities for crew training, plus an option to have Norsafe technicians evaluate crew proficiency during visits for regular equipment maintenance.
“Skimping on training to save money is not an option and can cost lives,” Eidsvik said.