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Failure of throw bag rescue line during a capsize drill on an unnamed rowing boat Widnes, UK. On the evening of 24 March 2018, the Warrington Rowing Club was carrying out a boat capsize drill in a swimming pool. At around 1830, as a young person was being pulled to the side of the pool using a throw bag rescue line, the line parted. The young person was uninjured during the incident. The parted line was examined and found to be made up of four pieces of rope thermally fused together, and it had failed at one of the joints. A customer notification campaign by the manufacturer, RIBER, and prompt publication of the incident in British Rowing’s newsletter,
identified a total of ten throw bags with defective rescue lines. Laboratory tests conducted for the MAIB established that the joined sections were 12 times weaker than the rope itself.

The primary purpose of throw bags is to rescue people from the water, and they are classed as public rescue equipment (PRE). They are not mandatory items of carriage on commercial or leisure vessels. There is no legislative framework that governs them and, consequently, throw bag rescue lines are not required to comply with any quality or safety standard. The only applicable obligation is the General Product Safety Directive 2001/95/EC, which requires all products entering the European market to be safe. However, it is estimated that there are tens of thousands of throw bags in use in the UK alone, both in water leisure and public rescue sectorsFAILURE OF THROW BAG RESCUE LINE

RIBER has taken several actions to prevent recurrence of faulty manufacturing. However, other throw bag manufacturers have reported that in the past their throw bag rescue lines were also found to have fused joints.

The British Standards Institution has been recommended to develop a standard for PRE, ensuring that the topic of throw bags and their rescue lines is addressed as a priority.