THE Isle of Wight Council failed to adequately identify or control ‘significant hazards’ on the Cowes Floating Bridge ahead of an accident that saw a crew member airlifted to hospital.

A heavily redacted report on the incident, which took place last year, has been released following a Freedom of Information request.

In the early afternoon of September 26, the crew member was found, injured and unconscious, in the bridge’s engine room.

He was subsequently airlifted to Southampton General Hospital.

Isle of Wight County Press:

The report revealed work to change the hydraulic oil filter had led to an oil leak. Staff could not fix it, and an engineer was unable to attend for three hours. The decision was taken to keep the bridge in service, which exacerbated the leak.

Due to the redacted nature of the report, the details of what happened next, and how the crew member came to be injured, are unclear.

However, a second Freedom of Information request revealed the man was working on the hydraulic tank, then stepped over a hatchway towards the wheelspace. He then collapsed at the foot of the access ladder, holding his arms on his chest, before losing consciousness.

He suffered an injury to his neck, his knee and several cracked ribs.

The second report said he was ‘exposed to or came in to contact with a harmful substance’.

Isle of Wight County Press:

The redacted report reveals there was an ‘over-reliance on the expertise of floating bridge staff by members when making operational decisions’.

Risk assessments carried out by the council lacked detail and were very generalised.

The report found the risk assessments failed to identify the significant hazards associated with engineering work on the bridge in sufficient detail, and failed to ensure the risks were sufficiently controlled.

The report also referred 'discrepancies' between the accounts of floating bridge staff and managers at County Hall.

Following the incident, all risk assessments associated with engineering work will be reviewed and updated. Staff will now receive regular one-to-one sessions, as per council policy, and the council will carry out a well-being survey for staff.

Improved arrangements for lone working below decks will also be provided.

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