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Safety wire corroded before sailor's death

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 12/10/2016

A Filipino sailor fell to his death from a container ship coming into Lyttelton port because his corroded plastic-coated safety wire broke and he was not wearing a lifejacket, an investigation has found.

The 52-year-old bosun aboard the Hong Kong-registered Madinah was one of two men getting the ship ready for docking in July last year.

He had just sent a trainee off to get lifejackets when he clipped his safety harness to a plastic-coated safety wire and swung a ladder over the side.

However, while on the ladder he lost his balance and fell. The safety wire broke and although the trainee threw the man a lifebuoy he was never seen again despite an extensive search. He was not named at the time.

A Transport Accident Investigation Commission report, released on Thursday, says the bosun would have had a greater chance of surviving had he been wearing a lifejacket.

The wire safety rope broke because it was severely corroded and had not been constructed and installed in accordance with best industry practice.

Salt water could become trapped in the coating, accelerating erosion.

"The plastic coating makes it virtually impossible for the wire to be inspected or surveyed properly," the report said.

The commission noted there was no dedicated formal procedure for rigging the accommodation ladders and gangways on board and it was critical of the crew's response to the emergency.

A number of recommendations were made to prevent a repeat of the death.

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