Worker Falls & Drowns While Boarding Vessel On S’pore Sea, Body Recovered 4 Days Later

Worker Falls Off Boarding Vessel Gangway, Body Recovered Days Later

Workplace casualties are a growing concern of late as the death toll now stands at 28 for the first six months of the year.

This is a stark contrast to pre-pandemic times when 2019 saw a total of 39 workplace deaths in the entire year.

On Monday (4 Jul), the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) reported that a local worker had fallen into the sea while crossing a gangway on 17 May.

Consequently, the worker drowned. His body was recovered four days later.

Worker falls off boarding vessel while crossing gangway

According to Channel NewsAsia (CNA), MOM confirmed that a local worker had fallen into the sea and drowned on 17 May.

When contacted by MS News, an MOM spokesperson said a 59-year-old local worker had crossed a gangway from one vessel to another when he lost his balance and fell into the water.

His body was recovered on 21 May.

The tragic incident had occurred at Eastern Bunkering A Anchorage, on a vessel occupied by Unitrust Marine Services Pte Ltd. The local worker had been employed by Alliance Instrumentation Pte Ltd.

According to CNA, a notice from the Workplace Safety & Health (WSH) Council said preliminary investigations revealed that the worker had been wearing a life jacket and carrying a backpack containing equipment at the time of the accident.

Number of workplace casualties stands at 28

Fatal accidents are more common in the marine industry as it is a higher-risk industry.

However, MOM clarified to MS News that this incident is not the 28th workplace fatality as this had happened some time back — after which other casualties occurred.

As of now, the total number of workplace fatalities for 2022 is 28.

Guidelines to observe when working in marine industry

The Workplace Safety & Health Manual for Marine Industries published by the Workplace Safety and Health Council (WSHC) stated a few guidelines for working on gangways:

  • Ensure procedures for handling the vessel on arrival, including mooring, gangways and towers, connection of services, and means of
    communications, are in place.
  • Both the master and crew must be briefed on the shipyard’s rules.
  • There is a risk of injury from falling into the dock when it has been drained of water. Beware of flooding risks when establishing access to the ship or vessel using a dock arm or gangway.
  • When docking, check that vessel is set correctly on the blocks when the dock is dry. Then install the gangway to vessel.

According to CNA, workers should also wear suitable life jackets that are in good condition.

They should not proceed with the vessel transfer if the weather or sea conditions are unfavourable, there is extensive movement on the boat, or if they feel unwell.

Manpower should also be deployed on the service boat and gangway to assist and supervise workers during vessel transfer.

Hope companies can protect workers better

It is distressing to read that the worker, unfortunately, passed away while performing his duties.

We hope that companies can invest some time and effort into ensuring the proper procedures and protocols are met to reduce workplace fatalities.

May the worker rest in peace.

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Featured image adapted from and Marine Insight for illustration purposes only.

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