Institute of Expert Witnesses

Providing specialist advice and support in accident cases

The Institute of Expert Witnesses offers professional impartial and independent advice and provides qualified expert opinions to support the legal process of resolving cases of accidents and injury.


Safety warning about defective throw bag rescue lines


There has very recently been a safety equipment warning put out by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) concerning Throw Bags, which are rescue lines. They are currently investigating this incident.

The discovery of the bag was made by a rowing club in Warrington and the RYA are urging all its members to undertake an urgent check of all throw bag rescue lines. This also applies to commercial and recreational crafts and vessels that use such safety products.

The estimation made is that there are tens of thousands in circulation in the UK alone.

All throw bags rescue lines should be fit for purpose and physically checked regular, here is a bullet point check off list, courtesy of MIAB:
  • The entire length of the rescue line should be examined for joins or other discontinuities. This can best be done by feeling along the length of the line with bare hands to identify rough patches or lumps
  • Any knots, splices or other methods of securing the ends of the line to handles, quoits or other parts of the equipment should also be checked for integrity
  • The throw bag should be inspected and tried at regular intervals and repacked according to the manufacturer’s instructions, as otherwise the line may not deploy freely from the bag when required
  • Any throw bag rescue lines found to have joins or discontinuities should be removed from service and the original manufacturer /supplier informed
All water sport individuals and operators are called on to assist the MAIB with their ongoing investigation by contacting them with full details of defective throw bag rescue lines that are discovered via throwbags@maib.gov.uk.

If you have any questions regarding any safety equipment or if you are involved in an injury or case, please do not hesitate to contact our Expert Witnesses on 0117 986 2194 or at enquiries@iew.org.uk.


An article signed by our Expert Witness William Duncan MacKay.


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Photo credits: MAIB