The importance of routine maintenance checks

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As a local girl I always have a flick through the Daily Echo to see what is going on nearby.  An article caught my eye as it involved personal injury, my specialism.

On the 18th July 2014 the Wightlink St Helen ferry was at the Fishbourne ferry terminal on the Isle of Wight when the deck, which was being lowered to prepare to disembark cars on board, collapsed.  As a result a crewman and three passengers, who were in their cars at the time, were injured.  I don’t know anything more about their injuries so I do hope they are ok and have now recovered from the unfortunate injuries they sustained.

A report by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) found a lack of routine maintenance contributed to the accident.  The cause of the accident was a wire rope which had suffered significant mechanical wear due to lack of lubrication.  The investigation found fault in the way Wightlink had managed the day to day maintenance of its fleet and in particular the vessels mezzanine decks.  Although they were subject to regular inspections and a mandatory six monthly examination by a surveyor it found that the formal mezzanine deck greasing routine had not been in place for two years.  The Maritime and Coastguard Agency had highlighted this discrepancy nine months before the accident and the failure to lubricate the steel wire lifting ropes had been identified during the six monthly examinations.  Unfortunately it appears that Wightlink failed to address and resolve the issue and as a result allowed the material condition of the collapsed deck to deteriorate to a dangerously unsafe condition.  Wightlinks policy was to replace wire ropes after four years but it appears that the rope in question was four years and three months old.

In this case had the deck been overhauled and the lifting ropes replaced the accident would not have happened.  In these circumstances anyone seeking to bring a claim for personal injury caused by the collapsed deck would have been successful in establishing liability and indeed I would have expected liability to have been conceded in the first instance.

I am pleased to hear that Wightlink have now put in place a maintenance programme for the steel wire lifting rope and a formal monthly greasing schedule.  As a result an accident like this should not happen again.

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