2019 Nov 14

Fatal fall onboard attributed to alcohol

The incident

Last week, the chief engineer, the third engineer, the electrical engineer, and one motorman were all in the engine control room.

The second engineer was making his way down to the engine-room to take over the watch from the third engineer.

The electrical engineer, from the control room’s window, saw the second engineer descend the first few steps of the stairway from the upper deck to the engine control room platform.

After a short while, when he looked out again, he saw the second engineer lying on the deck seemingly motionless and rushed to help him.

The electrical engineer alerted all personnel in the ECR, who all rushed out to help him. The master was informed and he swiftly proceeded to the location.

Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) was commenced by the crew, but the second engineer remained unresponsive.

The master ordered the crew to lift the second engineer and transfer him to his cabin, after which the relevant authorities were informed and the vessel diverted towards the Istanbul Strait, sector Turkeli, for medical assistance.

Later on, a medical boat came alongside and the second engineer was eventually confirmed dead.

The autopsy report revealed no narcotic or psychotropic drugs, but confirmed a presence of ethanol in blood (0.253 %) and in the eye fluid (0.267 %).

Probable causes

Taking into consideration the above, the MSIU believes that in all probability, the fall was caused by any of the following:

  •     The high level of alcohol may have impaired the second engineer’s cognition or caused poor coordination;
  •     Loss of consciousness due to the high level of alcohol present in the body of the second engineer;
  •     Lack of contrasting step edges might have caused him to miss a step and slip; and
  •     A combination of any of these factors.


  •     The high level of alcohol may have impaired cognition or caused poor coordination of the fatally injured crew member; and
  •     The fatally injured crew member may have lost consciousness due to the high level of alcohol present in his body;
  •     The fatally injured crew member may have missed a step on his way down to the engine-room;
  •     There were no contrasting nosings on the step edges;
  •     The fatally injured crew member was not observed to be holding the handrail;
  •     The fatally injured crew member was wearing PPE, which included; safety shoes, overall and safety helmet;
  •     The fatally injured crew member was adequately rested as per ILO/IMO requirements;
  •     The fatally injured crew member was not suffering from any illness or diseases, and was not taking prescription drugs;
  •     The fatally injured crew member’s hands were free from objects and the stairs were not obstructed;
  •     The stairs were free from any defects or damages which might have contributed to the fall;
  •     The stairs were adequately lit by artificial lighting at all stages of descent.



The MSIU has issued two recommendations to the company aimed at reducing the risks associated with stairs and the consumption of alcohol. As such, the company is recommended to:

  •     Mark nosings of stairs with a contrasting color.
  •     Share this investigation report with the company’s fleet.


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