I have worked on a number of tall ships - all of which require you to wear a safety harness whenever you leave the deck.
What do you think if this?
In 2006 an 18-year old crew member falls to his death on a schooner full of passengers. He was not wearing a harness. Two years later the Coast Guard report says that “No regulatory requirements were violated.”
Benjamin Sutherland of Concord, a summer crewmember on board the 90-foot passenger schooner, fell to the deck while attempting to cross from one mast to another, suspended by his hands and feet along the spring stay, a wire that connects the two masts. In sailing jargon the technique is known as “laying across the spring stay.”
According to the report issued Jan. 16, 2008 and obtained by The Times through a Freedom of Information Act request, Mr. Sutherland was aloft for no apparent reason, as the vessel left Vineyard Haven Harbor.
The vessel’s captain, Morgan Douglas, and the first mate told Coast Guard investigators that all crewmembers were required to obtain permission from the captain prior to going aloft. However, three crewmen interviewed in the report said they were unaware of such a policy.
The report’s conclusion addresses an issue that provokes some debate within the sailing community. “Controlling the [Alabama’s] sails while underway can be done from the main deck, although occasionally personnel may be required to go aloft to address problematic situations with rigging and sails. The use of mandated harnesses and other fall arresting equipment aloft is a subject of contention amongst sailing vessels, and is regarded by some as a hindrance and safety hazard.”
Included among the report’s notations by Coast Guard officials who reviewed the accident is the view that no new regulations are needed.
“While we acknowledge the risks taken by deckhands going aloft on small sailing passenger vessels, especially if done without use of a safety harness or other fall protection gear, we do not believe the addition of new regulatory requirements is justified by this incident. First, a review of accident data from 1991 - 2007 found that this is the only documented incident of a crewmember falling from the rigging on a small sailing passenger vessel during that time period. Second, regulations are intended to prescribe requirements to be followed during normal vessel operations or during emergency situations. In this incident, the crewmember who went aloft did so for reasons outside of those associated with normal/emergency vessel operations. While we do not believe that new regulations are justified, we do believe that it would be beneficial to crew safety on small sailing passenger vessels to highlight the dangers of going aloft on these vessels without fall protection gear. For this reason we will publish a safety advisory relating to the use of fall protection gear aboard sailing vessels.”