Life Jackets should be worn in Tunnels

CRT has advised the use of life jackets in canal tunnels following  a Harecastle boater’s death but rejects other suggestions made by a coroner.

Harecastle Tunnel south entranceWearing of lifejackets by boaters navigating canal tunnels is being recommended by the Canal & River Trust (CRT).

This follows a CRT review of tunnel safety requested by the North Staffordshire coroner following a fatality within the 2,926-yard Harecastle Tunnel on the Trent & Mersey Canal on 20 May this year.

The steerer of a privately owned narrowboat was apparently knocked off the in the section of the tunnel where the roof is low when the craft collided with the wall.  His waterlogged body, which had suffered a broken neck, was not recovered until the following day.

It was reported at the inquest that although his wife and son who were also on the boat they could not call anyone for help as mobile phones do not work in the tunnel.

The coroner’s report makes a number of recommendations such as that lifejackets or buoyancy aids should be worn; he makes the assumption that they are mandatory equipment on narrowboats, which of course they are not.  He suggests the installation of a telephone system or radio link and also the provision of ‘loaned’ safety helmets.

However, CRT have rejected most of these as being too expensive and have only advised the wearing of lifejackets or buoyancy aids, not made it mandatory.

The wearing of safety hats is required for the passage of Standedge Tunnel on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.

Thanks to Harry Arnold and Waterway Images for this report and photos.

All materials and images © Canal Junction Ltd. Dalton House, 35 Chester St, Wrexham LL13 8AH. No unauthorised reproduction.

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