Life­jack­ets is­sue can’t be ig­nored

The Press and Journal (Inverness) - - FEATURES -

The last thing any­one wants to do is spoil the hol­i­days of hun­dreds of hol­i­day­mak­ers mov­ing be­tween the West­ern Isles this week­end, but ferry oper­a­tor Cal­Mac was right to ad­dress is­sues sur­round­ing the use of life­jack­ets.

Days ago, marine ac­ci­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tors high­lighted shock­ing con­cerns about po­ten­tial flaws in life­jack­ets worn by three crew who died when a fish­ing boat sank near Barra.

Their bod­ies were found face down when the jack­ets were sup­posed to turn them over in the wa­ter to help keep them alive.

An ur­gent re­view was de­manded to pin­point po­ten­tial flaws in the jack­ets which might pose a threat to oth­ers. They are be­lieved to be widely used else­where.

Cal­Mac con­firmed yes­ter­day that the same life­jack­ets - Cos­alt Pre­mier - were sup­plied for pas­sen­gers in 33 fer­ries. The firm was quick to re­as­sure pas­sen­gers that it was car­ry­ing out its own safety re­view to de­cide if its cur­rent pro­ce­dures were ad­e­quate.

Di­rect com­par­isons or as­sump­tions about health and safety is­sues aboard the Louisa, which foundered and sank, and a Cal­Mac ferry are prob­a­bly un­wise. There were tragic and spe­cific com­pli­ca­tions lead­ing up to the tragedy, but un­der­ly­ing con­cern over the life­jack­ets is in the in­ter­est of all sea-go­ers, ir­re­spec­tive of what size of boat is be­ing used.

Safety at sea is para­mount and dis­turb­ing ques­tions about the Cos­alt Pre­mier must be re­solved for ev­ery­one’s peace of mind, in­clud­ing the be­reaved fam­i­lies, who are also seek­ing an­swers.

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