Holding a fire evacuation safety drill should be a positive step in terms of protecting employees – but not when setting up the simulated environment for the drill involves working 9m from the ground without guardrails, safe access or man anchors.
A berth at Chatham Docks was the location in February 2014 for just such a drill, where a marine contractor wanted to simulate their offshore evacuation procedures.
However, the Kent-based company they hired to build their simulation – which included a stack of containers – were unable to source the safety gear they had intended to use.
Instead, they simply had men climb up unsecured ladders to the tops of the containers, some as high as 9m from the ground, even though some of the containers were still moving and one end of the structure overhung the sea.
Without man anchors or guardrails, and without safety ladders to reach the heights in the first place, the safety drill soon became very unsafe.
HSE inspector Joanne Williams said: “The dangers of falling, and quite possibly sustaining fatal injuries, were very real.”