Safety Alert
Emergency escape to life raft - life raft painter line and personal descent devise obstruction

Country: ---

Location: OFFSHORE : Floating Production Storage Unit

Incident Date: ---   Time: ---

Type of Activity: Transport - Water, incl. marine activity

Type of Injury: Water related, drowning

Function: Unspecified

The issue relates to life rafts provided as part of an escape to sea system, which includes the provision of personal descent devices as a means of reaching the raft whilst minimising the likelihood of personnel entering the sea.

A painter line attaches the life raft to the installation and, when pulled, activates the inflation. It also acts as a guideline to deliver people safely to the floating life raft when deployed.

Only a very small section of painter line (on average approximately 0.5m) protrudes from the life raft before opening and, once the life raft is deployed, the painter line extends to its full length (this varies depending on the raft's specification and the height of deck upon which it is installed).

An extension line is normally attached from the painter line of the life raft to a secure point on the installation so that the life raft remains connected to the installation after launched.

Figure 1

What Went Wrong?:

The knot connecting the lines can become an obstruction. The descent device carabiner could be stopped by the knot, leaving the individual suspended and preventing escape.

When the life raft is deployed, the descender will not be able to follow the painter line all the way to the raft.

Figure 2

Corrective Actions and Recommendations:

  • The UK Health & Safety Executive has advised that they have seen this issue on a number of platforms.
  • It is recommended that all painter and extension lines are checked to ensure that a descent device carabiner can be attached and run freely down the painter line without obstruction during escape.
  • Operators may wish to contact their supplier regarding their particular set-up to seek advice on a suitable and sufficient solution.

Additional information

This alert was oriinally published by Step Change in Safety #playyourpart

Alerts on similar topics can be found at:" target="_blank

Safety Alert number: 296
IOGP Safety Alerts


Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, neither the IOGP nor any of its members past present or future warrants its accuracy or will, regardless of its or their negligence, assume liability for any foreseeable or unforeseeable use made thereof, which liability is hereby excluded. Consequently, such use is at the recipient's own risk on the basis that any use by the recipient constitutes agreement to the terms of this disclaimer. The recipient is obliged to inform any subsequent recipient of such terms.
This document may provide guidance supplemental to the requirements of local legislation. Nothing herein, however, is intended to replace, amend, supersede or otherwise depart from such requirements. In the event of any conflict or contradiction between the provisions of this document and local legislation, applicable laws shall prevail.

City Tower, 40 Basinghall Street
Level 14
London, London EC2V 5DE
United Kingdom