The Marine Accident Investigation Branch has issued a safety bulletin following an incident involving a sea safari rigid inflatable boat (RIB).
In June, a passenger on a RIB suffered a spinal injury that left them paralysed from the waist downwards. Twelve passengers had boarded the RIB and, once it was clear of the jetty, the two crew gave them a safety briefing and instruction on the wearing of lifejackets.
The RIB then proceeded out to sea and was increasing speed in choppy sea conditions when it encountered a steep-sided wave. The boat fell off the wave and slammed violently into the trough, dislodging the passenger from a seat at the forward end of the boat.
The MAIB’s investigation identified that there is a significantly higher risk of spinal fractures to people seated in the front area of RIBs, regardless of speed. MAIB’s findings also showed that seated individuals may have little or no understanding of boat movement or how to mitigate its effects.
Owners and operators of small commercial passenger vessels are strongly advised to review operations and risk assessments, referencing the Passenger safety on small commercial high speed craft code and MGN 436 (M+F). Passenger pre-departure briefings should also be reviewed and brought into line with current guidance.
A full investigation report into the accident will be published by MAIB in due course.
Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents, Andrew Moll OBE, said: “Passenger excursions on RIBs should be a pleasurable experience. This safety bulletin, prompted by a serious spinal injury to a passenger on a sea safari, highlights the risks to passengers seated toward the front of boats.
“Owners and operators of passenger excursions, especially on RIBs, should review their operations against established codes of practice and other guidance referred to in the safety bulletin. There should be specific mitigation measures in place to prevent injury to passengers seated in the front third of a boat’s length.”
You can read more about the incident by visiting the GOV.UK website.