Before HSE

Once upon a time:

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Early engine room lift, direct to the stoke hold.

Work like that is now done by rope access technicians with properly certified equipment

HSE is supposed to start with good engineering to avoid safety hazards. Design and build to minimize the need for dangerous maintenance work. Use aluminum or the very best coating systems in hard to reach places. Cheapest initial construction cost is not the route to good HSE.

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What painting the deckhouse?
Special climbing technicians?

Reference CSWP and analyze the risks.

Rig properly with correct body harness and safety tag line, use appropriate connection points and inspected gear. Use relevant PPE. Train and familiarize with gear on use.

Ship crews do it all the time. It kinda’ comes with the job of Bosun, „AB“ and Mate ……

Now as to what is seen in the photo… hard to see exactly if it is best practice but yes, it is often done.

The ‘safety harness’ was a lap belt as I recall.
Anchor points? That is what railings were for.
Safety tag line? No such thing.

I am pretty sure that our stage hasn’t left the focsle since it was placed there in 1999.
Quick, find me a lantern to swing!

Looong time before HSE:

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Depends where you work I guess.

But some work places wouldn’t allow that these days.

Would have to be done by qualified rope access technicians with certified equipment or with a cherry picker.

People who just have trickle down training and equipment that is not properly certified wouldn’t be allowed to do it.

Years ago I used to see foreign ships outbound down the channel with crewmen out over the side on staging planks painting. I haven’t seen that in a long time.

Never seen that anywhere.
Must have been ghost ships.

An old shipyard foreman I talked to was not too impressed with all this HSE sh*t:
"Before we all looked out for each other, but now the young punks think that when they wear hardhat, safety shoes and safety glasses they are bullet proof and it’s “each man for himself”.

Actually the hardhat take away their peripheral view above and the side shield on the safety glasses to the sides, so they don’t know what is coming before it hits them".


I know someone who got brain damage because he wasn’t wearing a hard hat and a container twist lock fell and hit his head. If he had been wearing a hard hat it would have been a minor injury.


Yes there is no debate about the need for wearing appropriate PPE, nor that doing so has saved lives and reduced injuries when accidents happens.

There are no records showing how many accidents have been avoided by been more aware, or by the “buddy system”.

The Norwegian ship Nordgard in San Pedro, Los Angeles, 1959.

Photo: Kurt Wiedemann

Here is one I haven’t seen before. Using the car deck pontoons as scaffolding for over side work:

Only an option on the Auto/Bulk carriers that was common in the 1960-70s:

Auto/Bulk ship Fernside (Photo: Courtesy James McNamara)

Source: The evolution of car carriers - FreightWaves