Crane transfer seminar highlights safety concerns

Sept. 18, 2007
Sparrows Offshore and Reflex Marine conducted a crane transfer seminar and demonstration in Aberdeen.

Offshore staff

ABERDEEN, UK -- Sparrows Offshore and Reflex Marine conducted a crane transfer seminar and demonstration in Aberdeen. The event highlighted the need for greater safety in marine personnel transfers.

To address this concern, Reflex Marine has developed the Frog personnel transfer capsule, which provides a marine transfer solution, incorporating an outer protective shell and a shock-absorbing seating assembly.

The process of transferring offshore crew by crane from vessel to installation is potentially a high-risk operation. However, the approach to marine personnel transfer between vessels and offshore installations rarely receives critical review and, compared to helicopter transfer, standards are far less stringent, according to Reflex Marine.

Information gathered independently by the company suggests more than 5 million crane transfers take place each year worldwide, a similar order to the numbers moved by helicopter. The data collected includes more than 60 crane transfer incidents, resulting in 48 injuries and seven fatalities. Of those incidents, most of which occurred within the past 10 years, 32% involved lateral impact, 40% falling, 23% heavy landing, and 5% immersion. It was concluded that 80% of all incidents would have been avoided with better equipment and operational controls.

Although crane transfers are regarded as a high-risk operation, the data indicates the level of fatalities (per crew transfer) is lower than for helicopters, although injury rates are considerably higher.

"Historically risk management for marine-based crew supply has received little priority," says Phil Strong, managing director of Reflex Marine. "A lack of reliable information has also generated misconceptions about the true risks and masked some important breakthroughs. However, change is afoot and many operators are now attaching a high level of importance to all crew supply activities. Exceptional progress has been made in the development of safer, more efficient alternatives with operators, vessel owners, and transfer specialists all making important contributions."