This marine safety, published on February 9th, 2023, addresses the importance of verifying the correct arrangement of handholds in embarkation gate arrangements aboard merchant vessels.
"The Coast Guard is currently investigating a casualty involving a fall from a pilot ladder where the handholds in the gate arrangement aboard the vessel terminated without being rigidly secured to the vessel’s structure.
This termination left a gap in the handholds at the transition point at the head of the pilot ladder, where an embarking person might reach to pull themselves onto the vessel.
The Coast Guard observed that the abrupt termination of the handholds above the vessel structure appeared to be a modification that was completed to accommodate the length of the pilot ladder spreader during deployment and retrieval of the pilot ladder.
The modification made it possible to retrieve the pilot ladder without having to lift the spreader up and over the vessel’s railings."