Man drowned after falling overboard with incorrectly fitted lifejacket

The deckhand was attempting to fix an issue with the trawler when he fell into the North Sea.

Deckhand drowned after falling from trawler into North Sea due to incorrectly fitted lifejacket David Meek

A deckhand drowned after falling overboard while trying to fix a fault on a trawler as his lifejacket wasn’t fitted correctly, an investigation has found. 

Around 3am on February 18 2021, the man fell overboard from the twin rig stern trawler Copious approximately 30 nautical miles south-east of the Shetland Islands. 

The deckhand was conscious, wearing a lifejacket and was quickly brought alongside the vessel. 

However, the crew’s attempts to recover the casualty back on board were unsuccessful. 

He was unresponsive when recovered from the water by a coastguard helicopter and pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.

A Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report released on Thursday found that the deckhand had been attempting to repair the trawl gear when he fell overboard. 

The report found that there had been no attempt to stop and consider the repair and it was not effectively risk assessed or mitigated. 

When the deckhand lost consciousness in the water, his incorrectly worn lifejacket did not hold his airways clear of the water and he drowned due to complications of immersion in water. 

The report also found that the man overboard recovery equipment on board Copious was not supplemented by the training and equipment necessary for the recovery of an unconscious person.

The MAIB made a recommendation to the Maritime and Coastguard agency to amend regulations to require fishing vessels to have an efficient means to recover an unconscious person from the water that is demonstrable during surveys and inspections.

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