Safety factors in personnel transfer

OE Staff

October 18, 2013

Marine personnel transfer is an operation that spans many units, with clear communication and planning proving to be key factors.

To best understand the risks involved, Reflex Marine independently compiled a personnel transfer incident database. No such industry research previously existed.

“Operators around the globe are becoming much more aware of the new choices in logistical support. Going back 10-15 years the first choice was nearly always the helicopter,” Strong said.

Based on the data compiled from publicly available data; industry partners; and operators, Reflex’s Marine incident database compiles incidents occurring over the last 20 years, from 1993 to 2013, acknowledging that their database might not capture all incidents due to sourcing and information constraints.

Over the course of their research, analysts found that the vast majority of personnel transfer incidents (68%, according to their database) occurred on the vessel, with a particularly high level of incidents or collisions occurring during pick-up, when falls are more likely to result in serious injuries or fatalities.

In analyzing the results, Reflex compiled incidents by category and completed root causes analysis to isolate the most dangerous aspects of marine personnel transfers. Categories are: Passenger falling in transport; lateral impacts (also known as “swing” or “the pendulum effect”); vertical impact (such as heavy landings); trips or entanglements; unknown; deck crew; immersion. In doing so, they found the key risks involved passenger falls (more than 50%) and lateral impacts (40%). Heavy landings, by contrast, were likely to result in minor injuries. Immersions had the lowest incident rate (less than 10%), but incurred a high potential for fatalities.

Root causes analysis indicated that faulty equipment design was a main perpetrator (30%), followed by crane operation errors (just under 25%). Combined, the data and its findings helped Reflex Marine understand potential issues and malfunctions to attempt to best protect passengers during such transfers by addressing the incident categories.

To give examples across all categories, Reflex’s devices are designed to float and self-right, and include four-point seat harnesses; spring loaded seat bases; shock-absorbency features; and have been confirmed by research authority Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA) that their devices provided “excellent protection against back injury even in the heaviest of landings.”

To avoid the prominent risk of the swing factor caused of dynamic motion, Reflex Motion has outlined the points of highest risk and impact.

For more information on Reflex’s services, history and safety practices, please visit