The Swedish Transport Agency has received a number of reports during the year about passengers and crew members who have fallen in the water when working on board or during embarkation/disembarkation. On one occasion, a small dry loader was at a quay in northern Sweden and the crew were opening the hold covers prior to unloading. It was really cold and had been windy on the crossing, so it was icy and slippery on the deck. A crew member was working on a hold cover, and when he was going to climb down he slipped over the side of the ship and landed on the ice. He was battered and bruised, but fortunately the ice did not break. It was not possible to climb down and fetch him, so he was lifted up with a crane instead as the risk of breaking through the ice was too great. The man fractured his face but was able to go back to the ship after being examined at the hospital.
In March 2017, the Swedish Accident Investigation Authority (SHK) published a report on the Nordic Stani, where a crew member onboard was going to do a job and had to climb onto the hold covers. The man went missing and the investigation concluded that he must have fallen off the steps or from the covers over the side of the ship and disappeared.
Slipping or tripping happens surprisingly often, and often leads to personal injuries. If the person falls overboard there is a high risk of them drowning.
In both the above cases, a crew member had climbed onto a higher part of the cargo deck where there was no rail, without any form of harness, and then lost their balance or grip and fell so badly that they went over the side rail. Making risk assessments on safety rounds and during everyday work is an important part of proactive safety work on board a ship.
There have also been a few cases of people falling overboard in Swedish archipelago shipping. In one event, a small passenger ship was up against the quayside while passengers were embarking. A new master was practising and there was a strong wind. The ship moved slightly away from the quayside, the gangplank slipped off the ship and two passengers fell into the water between the ship and the dock. It was rather cold, both in the air and the water, so the passengers had slight hypothermia and suffered some small abrasions. Fortunately, they could be pulled out of the water almost immediately by some of the crew and other passengers.
On another occasion, a passenger was about to board a small passenger boat to go to work. While he was boarding the ship moved slightly and the passenger lost his balance. He hurt his chin and arm, and then fell in the water. In this case, too, the victim was quickly pulled out of the water and went to the hospital for dressings on his injuries and a check-up for hypothermia.
In both cases the ferries had not been able to remain in position while taking passengers on board. There is always some stress involved when keeping to a timetable, but it is essential to be observant and stick to routines when passengers are moving between land and ships.