A recently cleaned and inspected section of outboard steelwork was to be coated using a coating system application gun utilising rope access.
Once the technician was connected to the ropes and outboard he was passed the coating gun which he tethered to his harness using one of his available cowstails, however the technician did not identify that the gun was attached via a quick release connection mechanism. The coating scope went ahead with 4 of the 6 tie in points successfully re-coated before the coating cartridge depleted and had to be changed out. The technician positioned himself to ascend the rope, he positioned the coating gun to his right hand side. After the technician had successfully commenced his ascent he was alerted by a team member that the gun had disconnected at the quick release and dropped directly into the sea.
Familiarity with the equipment being used prior to commencing work is very important to ensure that all functioning parts are identified and understood. Pre-use checks were conducted, however the team did not identify the quick release connection mechanism. This then resulted in the quick release connection being used as a tethering point. It should be noted that the team thought that they had adequately secured the gun correctly, however lack of familiarisation resulted in the incident occurrence.
By appropriately planning the job steps and familiarisation of equipment prior to the commencement of work the incident could have been prevented.