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'Bypassing safety controls' remains top reason for safety incidents reported to IMCA

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10 March 2021

2020 saw the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) publish 34 Safety Flashes featuring 148 incidents or events, selected to ensure that ‘lessons learned’ are clear to all. During the year under review IMCA, made an important change to the template for submission of safety flashes, having aligned safety reporting to IOGP’s Life-Saving Rules. 

This change enabled those reporting incidents to indicate into which of the nine IOGP Life-Saving Rules (or category) the given incident or event might fall. This led IMCA to be able to report that ‘Bypassing Safety Controls’ was the most often broken rule accounting for 48% of incidents or events. ‘Line of Fire (including drops)’ was second at 30%; and with 13% ‘Safe Mechanical Lifting’ was third.

Nick Hough, IMCA’s HSSE Technical Adviser explained: "IOGP’s Life-Saving Rules are highly effective techniques for preventing fatalities, and information on them has proved to be a very popular download from the IOGP’s website. They are effective because of their simplicity, relevance and practicality.

"Not only are we aligning IMCA’s Safety Flash incidents to the Rules, but we recommend Members to adopt the Rules in their own operations.

"Each of the nine Rules highlights a key action to prevent fatal injuries during activities that are high risk. Designed as actions individuals can take to protect themselves and their peers, every Rule is geared to a critical area where repeated fatalities have occurred. Any incident or event might be attributable to one, more than one, or even none (3% in 2020) of the Rules:

  • Bypassing Safety Controls
  • Confined Space
  • Driving
  • Energy Isolation
  • Hot Work
  • Line of Fire
  • Safe Mechanical Lifting
  • Work Authorisation
  • Working at Height

"We continue to encourage all IMCA members to contribute their incidents to the IMCA Safety Flash system. This active involvement is an important way to influence industry safety awareness. IMCA works closely with contributors to ensure the strict anonymity and appropriateness of all published Safety Flash material. Nothing is published without the clear written permission of the contributing member.”

Information on report submissions is at

IMCA does not publish all the events or incidents received; the decision whether to publish is necessarily subjective and editorial in nature to ensure that there are clear ‘lessons learned’.

Nick Hough, IMCA’s HSSE Technical Adviser
'Bypassing safety controls' remains top reason for safety incidents reported to IMCA