As the IMO’s 2021 to the IBC Code (MEPC.318(74) and MSC.460(101)) are entering into force on 1st January, offshore supply vessels that intend to carry NLS on international voyages after that date will be required to meet the carriage requirements listed in the OSV Chemical Code or approved equivalents, USCG advised through a new information bulletin (MSIB 24-20).
For offshore supply vessels (OSVs), the 2021 IBC Code amendments will be implemented through IMO resolution A.1122(30) and the updated Code for the Transport and Handling of Hazardous and Noxious Liquid Substances in Bulk of Offshore Supply Vessels (the OSV Chemical Code).
The OSV Chemical Code provides the design and construction standards for an OSV to carry any of the products listed in the IBC Code. These new amendments will affect most of the carriage requirements for the products listed in ENG Policy Letter 03-12.
Therefore, OSVs that intend to carry NLS on international voyages after 1 January 2021 will be required to meet the carriage requirements listed in the OSV Chemical Code or approved equivalents.
Furthermore, the carriage requirements of the provisionally assessed tradename mixtures listed in the MEPC.2/Circular may change, as the IMO is currently reevaluating many of these products.
For example, under the 2021 IBC Code, both methyl alcohol (methanol) and toluene will be considered toxic. Therefore, any tradename product that contains either of these two products will also likely be considered toxic. Products that must be carried on a type 2 ship will not be authorized for carriage onboard a type 3 ship.
OSV operators that intend to carry products listed in the IBC Code or MEPC.2/Circular in bulk on international voyages are highly encouraged to contact CG-ENG at their earliest convenience. A member of my staff will evaluate your particular circumstances and determine if any alterations to your vessel are necessary.
OSV operators that intend to carry noxious liquid substances (NLS) on domestic routes only must meet the requirements of either 46 CFR 125.120 (for vessels less than 6,000 GT) or 46 CFR 125.125 (for vessels of at least 6,000 GT).
Per ENG Policy Letter 03-12, an OSV is authorized to carry the 30 products listed in Appendix I of the policy, while those vessels covered by 46 CFR 125.125 may, in addition, carry non-toxic products suitable for a type-3 ship as defined by the IBC Code. The carriage of any product requiring a type 2 ship for an OSV on a domestic route is not currently authorized.
As the first virtual meeting of the International Maritime Organization’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (IMO, MEPC 75) opens , the Clean Arctic Alliance implored member states to amend and improve its draft ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil (HFO) in the Arctic or risk implementing a “paper ban” – a weak regulation that will leave the Arctic exposed to greater danger from oil spills and black carbon pollution from HFO in the future, as shipping in the region increases.
“Instead of rushing headlong into disaster, the IMO and its Member States must make serious amendments to the draft ban on the use and carriage of polluting heavy fuel oil in the Arctic – if they approve the ban as it stands, it won’t be worth the paper it’s written on”, said Dr Sian Prior, Lead Advisor to the Clean Arctic Alliance.
“IMO Member States must realise that unless they remove or amend the exemption and the waiver clauses, and bring forward the implementation dates, the HFO ban as currently drafted will leave the Arctic unprotected in the years to come. In fact, it is likely that the volume of HFO used and carried will increase, resulting in a greater risk to the Arctic from HFO spills and black carbon pollution for the next decade”.
At the IMO’s PPR 7 subcommittee meeting in February 2020, the IMO and its member states developed a draft regulation prohibiting the use and carriage as fuel of HFO by ships in the Arctic. However, the inclusion of loopholes in the draft regulation – in the form of exemptions and waivers – means that a HFO ban will not come into effect until mid-2029, leaving Arctic communities, Indigenous peoples and ecosystems exposed to the growing threat of HFO spills for the whole of the 2020s – nearly a decade .
“Increased shipping in the Arctic poses great risks, and Arctic communities are seeing its negative impacts from debris and marine mammal ship strikes. Banning HFO from the Arctic is the right thing, and IMO Member States must ensure that it is a true ban. Exemptions and waivers allow business as usual. It is upon all nations to consider the impacts to people who live in the Arctic and make their living from the waters of the Arctic to implement an HFO ban to lessen the myriad threats we in the Arctic face”, said Austin Ahmusak, marine advocate for Kawerak, Inc, Alaska, which works to assist Alaska Native people and their governing bodies to take control of their future.
As drafted, the five central Arctic coastal states will be able to issue waivers to their own flagged ships and by-pass the ban. The regulation is not flag-neutral, and it will create a two-tier system of environmental protection and enforcement in the Arctic, along with lower standards and negative environmental consequences in the Arctic’s territorial seas and exclusive economic zones. This version of the ban could also potentially lead to transboundary pollution.
According to recent analysis by the International Council on Clean Transportation, as currently drafted, the regulation will only reduce the use of HFO by 16% and the carriage of HFO as fuel by 30% when it takes effect in July 2024, and will allow 74% of Arctic shipping to continue with business as usual. Between July 2024 and July 2029, when the ban becomes fully effective, the amount of HFO used and carried in the Arctic is likely to increase as shipping in the Arctic increases, and as newer ships replace older vessels and are able to take advantage of the exemption or change flag and seek a waiver from the ban.
Earlier this month, on November 6th, Norway announced a proposal to ban HFO from all the waters around the Arctic island archipelago of Svalbard. HFO has already been banned from Svalbard’s national park waters since 2015, and has been banned throughout Antarctic waters since 2011 .
It is not just the risk of HFO spills that concerns the Clean Arctic Alliance; heavy fuel oil is a greater source of harmful emissions of air pollutants, such as sulphur oxide, and particulate matter, including black carbon, than so-called “alternative fuels” such as distillate fuel and liquefied natural gas (LNG). When emitted and deposited on Arctic snow or ice, the climate heating effect of black carbon is up to five times more than when emitted at lower latitudes, such as in the tropics. The US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) recorded the monthly average ice extent for October was the lowest in the satellite record, while the summer sea ice extent was the second lowest on record .
Recently published work by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the UN body responsible for regulating international shipping, shows that globally shipping black carbon emissions have grown by 12 per cent between 2012 and 2018 , while work from the International Council on Clean Transportation found that in the Arctic black carbon emissions from the Arctic shipping fleet grew by 85 per cent in only four years between 2015 and 2019 .
The decline of Arctic sea ice is expected to open up little used shipping routes including the Northern Sea Route – across the top of Russia – to ships trying to find a faster, cheaper route between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. But the decline of sea ice and greater accessibility to ships increases the risk of accidents, particularly due to the hazards of navigating poorly charted waters. As well as the dangers of HFO spills – an Arctic oil spill would prove nearly impossible to clean up, the burning of fuel such as HFO has a direct and localised impact for the Arctic sea and glacier ice. When black carbon particles fall on ice, they reduce its ability to reflect light and heat, which leads to accelerated melting. As the snow and ice melts, the darker surface of the land or the sea beneath continues to absorb heat. In short, the use of HFO by Arctic shipping contributes to the acceleration of multiple feedback loops that are contributing to dramatic changes in the Arctic and elsewhere.
Despite the dramatic changes occuring in the Arctic due to global heating and the risk to the Arctic from emissions of black carbon from shipping, black carbon will not be addressed at MEPC 75.
“The IMO has spent nine years already discussing black carbon but has so far failed to agree any concrete measures to reduce emissions. The Clean Arctic Alliance wants to see the IMO develop and adopt a resolution which would set out recommended interim measures to reduce black carbon emissions, ahead of completion of the work to identify and implement one or more black carbon abatement measures”, said Prior.
“The Arctic is changing before our eyes and those changes will have repercussions for all of us” continued Prior. The contribution of black carbon to global heating especially when emitted close to snow and ice is significant and it is imperative that all sources are rapidly eliminated.”
The Clean Arctic Alliance is calling on the IMO and its Members to step-up and take action which will urgently reduce and eliminate black carbon emissions from ships operating within or near to the Arctic. By switching from HFO or very low sulphur fuels (VLSFOs) to alternative cleaner fuels emissions of black carbon can be reduced by 30 – 45%. Then the installation of an efficient particulate filter will increase the reduction of black carbon emissions by over 90%.
MEPC 75 is also scheduled to make a big decision on greenhouse gas emissions. In October, the IMO’s working group on reducing GHG emissions developed an extremely weak proposal known as “J/5.rev1“ that at best would shave 1.3% from the business-as-usual growth pathway of 15% by 2030. In short, unless delegates reject this weak deal, IMO will endorse a climate plan that sees emissions from ships keep growing for several decades – backtracking on its own commitments made in 2018 to strive for a short-term peak in emissions followed by reductions.
If the global shipping industry were a country, it would lie 6th in the carbon emitter’s rankings, above Germany – with 1 billion tonnes of emissions a year, around 3% of the global total.
These emissions have a direct impact on the Arctic, which is warming twice as fast as anywhere else on Earth due to global heating. It is well known that what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic – loss of sea ice is likely to drive instability in the polar regions and upset weather patterns while the melting of Greenland’s ice caps is set to raise sea levels in port cities around the world.
What to expect from MEPC 75:
The draft Arctic HFO ban regulation will be discussed during the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee from 16-20 November 2020 (MEPC75), which will be the first MEPC meeting held virtually. During the meeting:
NGOs will draw attention to the inadequate impact and effectiveness of the draft regulation banning the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil (HFO) by ships in Arctic waters.
NGOs will highlight recently published work indicates that loopholes in the draft regulation mean that only 30% of HFO carriage and 16% of HFO use would be banned when the regulation comes into effect as proposed in 2024, and incredibly, that it is likely that the amount of HFO carried and used in the Arctic will increase following the ban taking effect.
Despite the dramatic changes occuring in the Arctic due to global warming, the risk to the Arctic from emissions of black carbon from shipping will not be addressed at MEPC 75. The Clean Arctic Alliance will however continue to push for a commitment to a MEPC black carbon resolution which would set out recommended interim measures pending completion of IMO work to identify and implement one or more black carbon abatement measures.
International Register of Shipping (INTLREG) launched updated version of its Survey Management platform INTLREG eShips v2, which features Electronic Certificates. The INTLREG electronic certificates are fully compliant with the IMO “Guidelines for the Use of Electronic Certificates”
The INTLREG Electronic Certificate has online certificate verification feature using Quick Response (QR) Codes and Unique Tracking Number.
The new certificates issued from this week are in electronic format. The existing paper certificates issued by Intlreg to vessels remain valid. Intlreg plans to replace those with electronic certificates during subsequent surveys.
The amendments to the IBC code and MARPOL Annex II which are expected to come into force on 1 January 2021, will affect tankers carrying chemical cargoes and other vessels carrying Noxious Liquid Substances.
Specifically, the changes adopted at MEPC 74 and MSC 101 will apply from 1 January 2021, and their main changes are the following:
IMO Resolutions MEPC.318(74) and MSC.460(101) introduce significant changes to the existing IBC Code.
Chapters 1, 15 and 16 have been amended while chapters 17, 18, 19 and 21 have been replaced.
Chapter 15 has been amended to include the requirement for hydrogen sulphide (H2S) detection equipment to be carried on board vessels carrying bulk liquids prone to H2S formation.
The amendments in chapter 21 ‘Criteria for assigning carriage requirements for products subject to the IBC Code’ implements new criteria for how carriage requirements are assigned.
This has resulted in changes to the carriage requirements of products listed in chapter 17 and 18. Due to the extent of the revision it is likely that it will be necessary for most ships to update the Certificate of Fitness or Noxious Liquid Substances (N.L.S) certificate to reflect the changes.
Members are advised to contact the Flag State/Classification Society to establish if a new certificate is required. Cargoes that are loaded prior to 1 January 2021 should be carried in accordance with the existing certificate.
MARPOL Annex II
IMO Resolution MEPC.315(74) adopts amendments to MARPOL Annex II.
It includes the addition of the term ‘persistent floater’ which is a slick forming substance such as selected grades of vegetable oil or paraffin like cargoes.
The amendment also includes a dedicated prewash requirement for cargoes deemed persistent floaters discharged in Northern European ports. Cargo residues of persistent floaters in this area will be required to be discharged to a shore reception facility.
“Appendix IV has also been updated to include the requirement for a vessel’s Procedures and Arrangement (P&A) manual to incorporate prewash procedures for persistent floaters. As a result, the P&A manual may need to be updated and approved by the Flag State/Classification Society.”
USCG Office of Design and Engineering Standards, released FAQs focused on IMO Resolution MSC.402(96) and Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) 03-19.
Through the FAQs, USCG provides guidance on “Maintenance, Thorough Examination, Operational Testing, Overhaul And Repair Of Lifeboats And Rescue Boats, Launching Appliances And Release Gear”.
In order to best serve our customers, we have compiled a list of answers to frequently asked questions. The guidance in these FAQs are not a substitute for applicable legal requirements and are not intended to impose legally-binding requirements on any party.
… as USCG stated.
What is the significance of MSC Resolutions 402(96) and 404(96), and NVIC 03-19?
Resolution MSC.404(96) amended SOLAS Chapter III to incorporate requirements for maintenance, thorough examination, operational testing, overhaul and repair of lifeboats and rescue boats, launching appliances and release gear, adopted by the Maritime Safety Committee by resolution MSC.402(96).
NVIC 03-19 was published to provide the U.S. Coast Guard’s recommendations with complying with the amendments to SOLAS III and resolution MSC.402(96). These resolutions apply to vessels subject to SOLAS, including those vessels enrolled in the Alternate Compliance Program (ACP) and/or the Maritime Security Program.
For those vessels that are not subject to the requirements of SOLAS, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) recommends they also follow the guidance in NVIC 03-19 when servicing their lifesaving equipment. (See paragraph 5 of NVIC 03-19).
What do these Resolutions and NVIC update or replace?
MSC.402(96) replaces MSC.1/Circ.1206/Rev.1 and MSC.1/Circ.1277. NVIC 03-19 cancels and replaces NVIC 04-07.
Who is the intended audience of NVIC 03-19?
US Flag Vessel owners and operators, USCG marine inspectors, class societies authorized under USCG’s ACP, lifesaving equipment manufacturers, servicing and repair facilities, and associated personnel.
Do these Requirements apply to fixed or floating platforms?
MSC.402(96) and NVIC 03-19 are not required for fixed/floating platforms, however, the USCG recommends that all vessels and platforms that have equipment holding approval under series 160.115, 160.132, 160.133, 160.135, 160.156, and 160.170 conduct the maintenance outlined in MSC.402(96) according to the guidance in NVIC 03-19.
How does the USCG define “make” and “type”?
The USCG definitions of make and type are outlined in Enclosure 3 of NVIC 03-19. In fact, “make” is refers to the equipment manufacturer.
While, the “type” refers to the US Coast Guard approval series for the equipment, e.g., 160.135. An Authorized Service Provider (ASP) authorized to work on a type of LSA is therefore authorized to work on any equipment under that approval series. See also Q&A in the section below on “AUTHORIZED SERVICE PROVIDERS”.
How do I provide feedback to USCG about their implementation?
In order to provide supporting documentation for future discussions concerning the application of IMO Resolution MSC.402(96), you are encouraged to inform the Commandant (CG-ENG-4) of any practical problems encountered in the implementation of its provisions, particularly with regard to availability of Authorized Service Providers. (see paragraph 6.f. of NVIC 03-19). This feedback should be submitted to TypeApproval@uscg.mil.
What would happen if, in the 18th century, an emergency took place aboard a ship? The Sailors would possibly send Morse code to the coast or nearby ships to show some kind of distress. Such a message is not easy to decode, as you can imagine modern shipping has to count on the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS). Let’s take a look at its history and how it works.
The history of GMDSS
About 30 years after the first ever communications satellite was put into orbit, GMDSS rolled out in 1992. Despite not entirely replacing radio, GMDSS attempted to put satellite technology at the heart of safety communications system for maritime.
GMDSS is now an international system which uses land-based and satellite technology, aiming to ensure rapid, automated, alerting of shore based communication and rescue authorities, in addition to ships in the immediate vicinity, in the event of a marine distress.
It was adopted by the IMO in 1988 and entered into force on 1 February 1992 with a phase-in period extending until 1 February 1999. As the phase-in period has now passed, all ships are now subject to the full GMDSS carriage and maintenance requirements.
GMDSS and its uses
Under GMDSS, all ocean-going passenger ships and cargo ships of 300 GRT and above conducting international voyages must be equipped with radio equipment that complies with international standards. It includes 5 key elements:
INMARSAT: A Satellite operated system that includes ship earth station terminals. It provides telex, telephone and data transfer services between ship-to-ship, ship to shore, and shore to ship along.
NAVTEX: An internationally adopted automated system which is used to distribute maritime safety information, and includes weather forecasts and warnings, navigational warnings, search and rescue notices and other similar safety information.
Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB): An equipment to help determine the position of survivors during a SAR operation.
Search and Rescue Locating Equipment: This is used to home Search and Rescue units to the position of distress which transmits upon interrogation.
Digital Selective Calling (DSC): A calling service between ship to ship, ship to shore or vice versa for safety and distress information.
For the purpose of GMDSS, four operational zones have been identified, based on distance from shore and in range of different communication systems.
SEA AREA A1: The area within the radiotelephone coverage of at least one VHF coast station in which continuous DSC (Digital Selective Calling) alerting is available;
SEA AREA A2: The area, excluding Sea Area A1, within the radiotelephone coverage of at least one MF coast station in which continuous DSC (Digital Selective Calling) alerting is available;
SEA AREA A3: The area, excluding Sea Areas A1 and A2, within the coverage of an Inmarsat geostationary satellite in which continuous alerting is available;
SEA AREA A4: An area outside sea areas A1, A2 and A3.
These areas mean that ships operating exclusively within about 35 nautical miles from the shore may be able to carry only equipment for VHF-DSC communications. Ships that go beyond this distance, up to about 150 to 400 nautical miles from shore, should carry both VHF-DSC and MF-DSC equipment, while those operating further from the shore but within the footprints of the Inmarsat satellites should also carry approved Inmarsat terminal(s).
At the beginning of GMDSS, Inmarsat C was the preferred option and minimum requirement where satellite services were mandated. Currently, compliant services include Inmarsat B, Inmarsat C, Mini C and Fleet 77.
Operators should bare in mind that GMDSS regulations define three methods of ensuring availability of GMDSS equipment at sea:
At sea electronic maintenance, requiring the carriage of a qualified radio/electronic officer (holding a GMDSS First or Second class Radio-Electronics Certificate) and adequate spares and manuals;
Duplication of certain equipment;
Shore based maintenance.
Ships on voyages in sea areas A1 and A2 must use at least one of these three maintenance methods, or a combination as may be approved by their administration.
Ships conducting operations on voyages in sea areas A3 and A4 must use at least two of the methods outlined . The lower requirement for A1 and A2 areas recognises that being closer to shore, ships will have more opportunity to address problems.
However, the vast majority of ships do not choose sea maintenance, as they prefer to duplicate the equipment and use shore based maintenance (for A3 ships), or use shore based maintenance only (A1 and A2 ships).
The right handling of GMDSS equipment requires certified training. Namely, the General Operators Certificate (GOC) is obligatory in order for an officer to handle GMDSS equipment onboard the ship.
To obtain this GOC, operators attend a short course, which is then followed by an exam. This training regards Cadets who must be licensed Radio Operators, before operating all the equipment in tandem with the regulations laid out for GMDSS.
As for the GMDSS training, it lasts about 12 days. Over the period of the training, the officer is taught about the various aspects of GMDSS ranging from Radio Log to sending INMARSAT messages and many other aspects which will be required.
Review of GMDSS
A comprehensive review of GMDSS started in 2012. In March 2016, at the Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue sub-committee’s third meeting (NCSR3), it was suggested that an agreed two-year modernisation plan should start. The plan would end in 2018, however the review will require changes to Chapters VI and V of SOLAS. This means that more time will be needed, and the plan is expected to be completed in 2024.
Recently, the IMO’s Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR), 7th session, concluded on January 24, and decided on many important issues, including the modernization of GMDSS.
During the session, the Sub-Committee continued reviewing the GMDSS requirements, aiming to enable the use of modern communication systems in the GMDSS, while removing requirements to carry obsolete systems.
Moreover, the meeting saw progress on revision of the relevant regulations in SOLAS chapters III and IV and preparing consequential amendments to other instruments.
An updated work plan was approved, which includes the categorization and prioritization for the review of other instruments related to the amendments to SOLAS chapters III and IV.
Overall, the goal of the session is to finalize the work by 2021, so that it can be submitted to the MSC and then the amendments to be adopted in time for entry into force in 2024.
GMDSS is a vital tool for ships in case of emergency, and has definitely saved many lives. Of course, in order to provide its full potential, the right training is necessary, as well as its regular review and update in order to keep up with the latest technological advancements.
BIMCO reminds the shipping industry to replace existing certificates concerning the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code) and International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships, 1973 as modified by the Protocol of 1978 (MARPOL) Annex II – Carriage of noxious liquid substances in bulk, as the amendments will enter into force on January 1st 2021.
Specifically, the amendment to the IBC Code requires a new Certificate of Fitness (CoF) for a vessel, which must be issued and be on board at the latest on 1 January 2021.
It is highlighted that by January 1st 2021,
“the new Certificate of Fitness (CoF) shall replace the existing one and therefore, it is highly recommended to have the new certificate on board as soon as possible, to make sure the vessel will be operational come 1. January 2021.”
BIMCO notes that all vessels are obliged to have a new Certificate of Fitness on board and in use from 1. January 2021. Cargoes loaded prior to 1. January 2021 can be carried and unloaded according to the requirements in force at the date of loading.
“Be prepared to supply the ships with specific vapor-detection instruments for further toxic cargoes. Be prepared to face lack of prewash shore reception facilities in ports in regions where it is required to perform a prewash after unloading persistent floaters.”
… BIMCO adds.
Concluding, it is reminded that MARPOL Annex II regulation 13.4 may exempt for mandatory prewash when the unloaded tank is to be reloaded with the same substance, or another substance compatible with the previous one, and the tank will not be washed prior to loading. Yet, if such an exception takes place, the appropriate entry made in the Cargo record Book shall be endorsed by an authorised surveyor (so-called “Annex II-surveyor”).
As of 12 October 2020, crew change requirements in Panama are subject to Executive Decree No. 1089 of 23 September 2020, the Panama Maritime Authority announced.
The Executive Decree No. 1089 of September 23, 2020 establishes:
Article 2. Any national, resident or foreign person who intends to enter the national territory, will present upon arrival in the country, the Certificate of Swab Test / PCR or negative antigen, with a maximum of 48 hours and may enter the country without the need to comply with mandatory isolation, in turn complying with all the biosecurity measures established by the Ministry of Health.
Article 3. Any national, resident or foreign person who does not carry the Swab / PCR Test Certificate or negative antigen upon arrival in the country, as indicated in Article 2 of this Executive Decree, will have the obligation to take a rapid test, prior to its registration at the airport, which will be charged at the cost of the traveler.
Depending on the result of the test, the following measures will be applied to the traveler:
If the rapid test result is negative, he/she is exempt from mandatory isolation.
If the swab / PCR or antigen test is positive, the person will go to mandatory isolation in a hospital hotel designated by the Ministry of Health. On the 7th day, he/she will have an antigen test performed. If the result is positive, the person must complete the 14 days isolation and if the result is negative, isolation ends.
Therefore, all shipping agencies, shipping lines or legal representatives shall comply with the new measures established by the Ministry of Health from the date indicated and until further notice.
”In the same way, they will continue to provide our Authority with the requirements of the Modalities with respect to the latest edition of the Instructions for the Change of Crew. The shipping agencies will be responsible for complying with the immigration and logistics processes with the airlines.”
Seafaring comes with risks; operations on board a vessel are complex and they can lead to accidents or even casualties if not performed carefully. When carrying out their activities, seafarers have to be vigilant and always wear the appropriate safety equipment. Yet, can you avoid an on-board accident and, if so, how?
Seafaring is a challenging job and no matter how many precautions are taken accidents are bound to happen as a result of one main and common reason – human error. A number of injuries are caused because of negligence by the seafarer themselves, as some fail to follow safety procedures implemented onboard, resulting to personal injuries.
Now, to answer the question of “how you can prevent an injury”, one must firstly be aware of the risks and the challenges onboard a vessel so that they take precautionary safety measures to prevent any potential accident.
Safety guidelines to consider when working onboard
In general, taking the proper steps to carry out a job onboard can mitigate potential injuries. Seafarers can reduce the risk or avoid such injuries by following the plan set for the specific operation and wear safety gear.
First and foremost, formal risk assessments are not a paperwork exercise to appease management but an effective tool to be used on the job to ensure that all risks are considered and that appropriate risk controls are in place before hazardous work is carried out.
It is essential that the scope of work is understood by everyone directly and indirectly involved. Crew members must be trained in recognizing and controlling the injury hazards associated with performing these steps.
A work permit is a major step to ensure that the operation will be done in a safe manner. A permit to work is a formal system to control work activities and is considered to be an integral part of safe work systems. However, remember that the permit will not make the work safer by itself, but is only one aspect of a safe operation.
In addition, any work can be done safely through the combined efforts of those involved in planning the job, authorizing it, supervising it and those who are performing the job. The personnel involved in performing the work activity are usually at the sharp end and most exposed to the hazards if something were to go wrong.
An important step prior to any operation is the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). It is considered as a first line of defense to keep maritime workers safe while on duty.
Having medical fitness for service at sea is crucial given that crew members may be exposed to stressful situations demanding high levels of exertion.
Key types of injuries onboard
Let’s explore the most common injuries and key safety tips to minimize risk per occasion:
Falls: In their annual review of marine casualties 2019, EMSA said slips, trips and falls are the most frequent causes of personal injury. Following the Code of Safe Working Practices (COSWP) is the minimum to prevent such injuries.
Burn injuries: To avoid a burn injury, firstly raise awareness of the potential risks of burn injury to crew of all ranks. The requirement to apply meaningful risk assessments, permits to work and toolbox talks to operations which may expose crew to risk of burns should be incorporated into SMS. Furthermore, be aware of proper first aid actions when treating burn casualties and seek professional medical advice using established tele-medical procedures.
Lifeboat drill: Always ensure boat is fully secured (gripes; harbour pins; lashings) before entering for maintenance and conduct toolbox talks covering dangers and operational procedures.
During mooring operations: A risk assessment should be made of all mooring areas onboard, mostly searching for hazards that may cause injury. Mooring areas naturally contain many trip hazards, and highlighting these is a good starting point.
Enclosed space accidents: When working in an enclosed space always check if a permit is required. Then, you have to ensure that the atmosphere has been tested and is safe so that you can enter. Also, confirm that all energy, machinery and fluids and gases have been isolated and locked-out, and make sure that you have in place an appropriate rescue plan with your co-workers before entry, including watchman.
Man overboard: Except the permit, you have to maintain three points of contact when climbing or working from a ladder and always hold onto the handrail on stairs, while also discuss your work with your co-workers. Another precaution is to check condition of fall arrestors and maintain situational awareness of other work being conducted around you.
Head injury: Caution is required as some head injuries may not seem serious. Potential symptoms may be a persistent headache, chronic vomiting or disorientation. The Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) of Medical Guide onboard Ships could be helpful to assess the degree of impairment of consciousness.
In every case, a thing that remains a challenge onboard is the lack of a doctor; In case of an accident, the injured crew has to be medevaced, therefore it is important to know how to treat an injury until medevacs arrive on the scene.
Always keep in mind that communication fully contributes in the everyday life onboard the ship; Therefore, where the ship has a mixed national crew, emphasis must be given to effective communication taking into account both the culture and language factors. This is particularly important in an emergency situation.
As they say, prevention is better than cure. So always keep safe.
4 things to remember to prevent injury onboard
Plan the work before its done
Always have a rescue plan / Alternative work method
Did you ever stop and wonder why a ship’s bridge is named so? i.e. a Bridge.
The reason, however, maybe unravelled through the pages of navigation history, taking us to the very origins of human sailing and shipbuilding.
After centuries of modifications on deck designs, the bridge has now emerged as the command centre of the ship.
On a normal voyage, manning of the bridge is usually done by an officer of the watch, with a lookout. The captain remains on the bridge during the important manoeuvres, assisted by a pilot and other navigational officers.
However, during the early days of sailing, cockpits used to be a lot smaller, with the ship steering being controlled by a rudder. The cockswain was usually in charge of operations using the tiller, which was connected to the rudder.
With technological advancement in ship designs, tillers were gradually replaced with wheels. Wheels used to control the ship direction using ropes and pulleys, placed at some distance from the ship’s stern, enabling the navigational officer to have a clear look of the navigational waters when placed at the quarter deck.
The quarter deck was raised to enable the captain to give direct orders to the crew. This feature proved to be an extremely important tool for navigation, especially during a storm.
With an increase in ship sizes, net tonnage also saw its increment. This in turn, also resulted in the workforce of the ship to be increased considerably.
The wheel was housed in a small structure on the quarter-deck, in the aft end of the ship. It became known as the wheelhouse. This wheelhouse has now been added to a modern ship’s bridge, forming an integral part of the same.
Coming back to history, we do know that advancement in steam engines marked the end of the human need for wind energy. Steam engines replaced sails on board ships, with sail paddles taking its place. They were steered via a rudder wheel.
However, we must remember that steam paddles were enormous in size, rising to a considerable height above the deck. Also, there was the issue as to where the wheelhouse would be placed on board since there was no raised platform from where the captain could give direction to the navigational officers.
One might think that the captain could’ve just climbed up on one of the two enormous steam paddles and issued commands to the navigational officer, but the engineering team needed it for close inspection of the paddles.
For this purpose, a walkaway was constructed on a raised platform, connecting the two paddles, serving as a literal ‘bridge’, earning the command centre its name. Yes, the name has survived till date.
The captain could issue commands to the pilot regarding steering of the ship, as well as engine commands to the engineering officer.
With the advent of technological advancements, propellers replaced the steam paddles, but naval coinage kept the term ‘bridge’ alive.
It is an interesting fact however that unlike merchant vessels, major warships have a number of bridges, including a navigational bridge, an admiralty bridge, and a conning tower in old warships.