Despite some very sophisticated devices, a significant proportion of crane-lift crew transfers still rely on technicians clinging to the outside of something that looks like an oversized lobster pot, with little or no fall protection.
The biggest problem with these is that if the pickup is just a little off-centre these baskets can swing, potentially hitting other structures or even the rising deck of a heaving ship.
So, why are these devices still being used? James Strong of Reflex Marine is honest about the problem and explained that seated transfer devices with damped suspension systems, such as the FROG-XT range, are extremely high spec, so while there’s been take up in regions like the North Sea which are noted for difficult waters and equally steep requirements, operators in more benign waters have simply neither the need nor the budget for such a high-tech piece of kit and often prefer standing transfers, especially given these baskets’ smaller footprint.
So, “as our aim is to reach all of the market” Mr Strong said it meant developing “a cost-effective” standing solution, appropriate to the needs of the operators while raising safety levels, based firmly on the company’s experience in the field.
The answer has been the WAVE-4 personnel transfer device. This has a stainless steel frame, around which are sturdy, roto-moulded buoyancy panels. These serve a threefold purpose; firstly they protect the passengers from lateral impact; secondly they hold the technicians securely, and thirdly, they are designed to make the device self-righting, just in case it does end up in the water.
The base has also benefited from Reflex Marine’s field experience. “Over the years we have tried a number of different solutions - but this particular EVA foam foot provides the right properties: it’s good at absorbing shock as well as being particularly hard wearing,” said Mr Strong.
Like all Reflex Marine’s solutions it’s been designed for medical evacuation too – while it will normally take four personnel, there is room for two and a stretcher to slide in crosswise.
Even given all this, the footprint on the deck is only 1.7m square: “It’s got the smallest footprint of any rigid transfer device,” he added, a consideration for transport and storage.
It’s not just for offshore platform use: “There’s a growing interest from the marine market,” said Mr Strong. More, it’s a solution that could find favour during a wind farm’s construction phase “as crew often have to access and inspect platform and turbine foundations during lifting and installation operations” he explained. In fact, he told MJ that three of these baskets have already been purchased by Seaway Heavy Lifting, a well-known heavy lift and marine contracting company.
By Stevie Knight