Port or terminal operators would be liable if an accident occurs on a tugboat at sea due to poor lighting conditions onshore, with negligence cited as the failure
As a minimum, this type of insurance claim would result in a very large payout to the tug operator,” says Midstream Lighting co-founder and commercial director Yuli Grig. “In some countries, like Russia, the port operator could be criminally prosecuted,” he explains.
“This can become slightly murky in the case that the lighting on the tugboat is also inadequate or impacting the ability for port workers to safely carry out their jobs.”
He says many tugboats suffer similar issues with accidents caused by poor and ageing luminaires in ports.
Inadequate lighting onshore can be detrimental to the safety of those operating on vessels. “The glare from poorly designed lights can pollute the surrounding waterways and compromise the safety of vessels in operation,” Mr Grig explains.
“Tugboats can be further challenged by distorted visibility from lighting reflecting off the water into the horizon from poorly aimed luminaires, which can also be confused by crew for navigational aids.”
The risk is heightened in volatile weather conditions, with perfectly adequate lighting potentially knocked out of position in high winds. There are considerable liability and potential insurance claims from lighting failures and insufficient lighting causing injury.
However, there are solutions to prevent this. “For example, using optical lenses, tailoring lighting systems to the environment, and accurately positioning lighting can help port and terminal operators to ensure light can withstand such conditions and remain in place,” says Mr Grig.
He says ports and tug operators can help mitigate risk, improve safety and avoid insurance claims or costly legal battles. “Recognised inadequacies and failures in the lighting system should be reported,” Mr Grig explains.
For port owners and operators, investing in a health and safety hotline and checking lighting levels every six months will reduce the risk of accidents both onshore and at sea.
Investing in high-quality, light-emitting-diode lighting tailored to endure harsh environments will enable them to further safeguard operations.
“For tugboat operators, reporting any cases of glare or confusion over navigational aids is critical to ensuring potential hazards are rectified prior to an accident occurring,” says Mr Grig. “They must lead by example, regulating and upholding high lighting standards to protect their crew and also those working onshore.”
While safety should be everyone’s concern, the responsibility will ultimately lie with the port operator. “Mitigating risk, saving lives and protecting commercial reputation must therefore be at the forefront of decision making when assessing lighting,” he recommends.