The National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) investigation into the allision of passenger vessel Seastreak Wall Street with Pier 11, Lower Manhattan, New York early last year has led the board to issue a safety alert regarding stairway hazards during docking and undocking.
Of the 331 people on board when the vessel allided with the dock on January 9, 2013, 79 passengers and one crewmember were injured, four of them seriously. As the vessel approached the pier, some passengers stood in the ferry’s five stairways providing passenger access between three deck levels as they anticipated arrival. When the vessel unexpectedly struck the dock, passengers lost their balance and fell, causing head injuries, fractured ribs and cuts and bruises. The most severely injured passenger fell down a stairway and suffered a broken neck, brain hemorrhage, lung collapse, facial fractures and lacerations and nerve injuries. He spent more than five weeks in a hospital.
The NTSB advises vessel passengers to avoid unrestricted stairways during docking and undocking as a momentary loss of balance can cause falls and serious injuries. To additionally reduce the risk of injuries, NTSB recommends passengers remain seated or hold onto a handrail or seat back during docking and always be prepared for unexpected vessel movement.
To further reduce the risk of serious injuries, the NTSB recommends vessel operators develop procedures to control passenger access to stairways during docking and undocking.