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Cowes Floating Bridge crew face 'uncontrolled hazards'

image captionFire, coastguard and ambulance teams helped the crewman

Crew members on a troubled ferry are in danger due to inadequate risk assessments, a report has said.

The inquiry by Isle of Wight Council follows the collapse of a crew member on the council-run Cowes Floating Bridge in September 2018.

The heavily-redacted report, published by OnTheWight website following a Freedom of Information request, did not say how the crewman came to harm.

The council said it had implemented the report's recommendations.

'Not fit for purpose'

Previously the authority said the 37-year-old man from Newport was taken to hospital after an incident in the engine room on 26 September.

Fire and coastguard crews used rope gear to lift the man out. His condition was not disclosed.

The report said existing risk assessments for engineering tasks were "very generalised" and "not fit for purpose".

It said the crewman faced "significant hazards" associated with the task he was performing, which the risk assessment "failed to identify or control".

image copyrightIOW Council
image captionThe £3.2m vessel has had a number of technical faults and service interruptions

The redacted version of the report did not specify the task or say whether the inadequate safety procedures caused him direct harm.

It said work to change an oil filter led to a leak of hydraulic fluid into the room.

A decision to keep the ferry running exacerbated the leak, investigators added.

"It is very fortunate that another member of staff had voluntarily decided to stay and assist in the operation being attempted and was on hand to quickly summon aid," it concluded.

The council said it had made "operational changes" following the report and had informed the Health and Safety Executive.

It did not comment on the reasons for the many redactions.

The chain ferry has suffered a number of technical faults and service interruptions since entering service in 2017.

Floating bridge timeline:

media captionThe problems which have afflicted the Isle of Wight's new £3.2 chain ferry.


  • 13 May - Vessel launched
  • 14 May - Broke down
  • 15 May - Service suspended by MCA
  • 7 June - Ran aground
  • 9 June - Ran aground for a second time
  • 9 June - Council said it had cleared "silt build-up that caused the floating bridge to ground"
  • 10 June - Ran aground a third time
  • 13 June to 3 July - Taken out of service at low tide
  • 30 June - Broke down due to electrical fault
  • 21 July - Withdrawn from service at night due to noise levels
  • 4 September - Withdrawn from service indefinitely
  • 11 December - Service resumed as part of extended trial


  • 2 February - Broken prow chain
  • 14 April - Ran aground
  • 15-16 July - Out of service for "improvements"
  • 8 August - Ran aground
  • 9-10 August - Out of service due to problem with prow hinge
  • 4 September - Out of service for slipway remedial works
  • 26 September - Crew member taken to hospital

Related Topics

  • Cowes
  • Newport

More on this story

  • Floating bridge: Crew member injured in engine room