Adverse Weather Are you prepared?
Anyone whose been at sea knows that everyday is perfect, right. The reality is that we all have to face adverse or bad weather conditions at times no matter if you operate in open waters, bays or rivers.
It’s not just those at sea that have to deal with adverse weather, shore-based businesses or facilities have to deal with it in many cases.
Adverse weather is the result of “high or strong gusting winds” which are often associated with very low-pressure systems, thunderstorms, squalls, willy-willies, mini cyclones and cyclones.
At sea all of the above affect the ocean which in turn impacts on the vessel, all persons onboard and their operations.
Working on deck in these conditions is dangerous and requires crew to take extra care during these times. The more sever the conditions the more care you need to exercise.
Working on commercial fishing vessels you must be on high alert when hauling trawl nets, retrieving loneliness or traps and when handlining all fishing gear. You need to remain vigilant of your surroundings and those on deck with you. It’s called “situational awareness.”
On vessels that carry passengers such as recreational fishing operators, dive charters, ferries and vehicle transport barges your primary concern is about passenger safety. This in itself can be challenging due to seasickness and passenger movement around the vessel.
Dumb barges offer a whole range of other challenges as they are either on anchor or being towed which brings tugs into the picture and adds a range of other potential dangers.
Shore based businesses have to deal with a whole range of issues from vessels breaking away or sinking, flooding of the premises and a range of other potential issues.
While we all try to avoid cyclones, the fact is that there are times when you simply can’t which places you, the vessel and all those onboard in a highly dangerous situation.
It’s just the same for shore based business and although you can evacuate the facility there is usually damage and losses to deal with.
If you find yourself in this situation it’s critical that you know what to do, are prepared and have appropriate procedures in place. And it’s not just at sea where we need to worry, what about shore-based operations. Storm surge is a major problem for all.
No matter what level of adverse or bad weather you find yourself in you need to be prepared and well equipped to deal with it not only for your safety but for all those onboard and the vessel or in the workplace.
WorkSafe issued a safety warning which urged employers (this also applies to Master) to ensure their worksites (this also includes vessels) are secured when potentially damaging winds are approaching.
Loose objects need to be removed from exposed areas or suitably secured to prevent them becoming projectiles. Here’s a quick check list.
- Monitor weather conditions continuously
- Check forecasts regularly
- Ensure loose items are secured appropriately
- Cease crane operations when the wind speed exceeds the manufacturer’s specified limit
- Do not operate hoisting equipment (personnel or equipment) in high or gusty winds, refer to manufacturer’s guidelines
- Ensure tools and other equipment are stowed appropriately
- Wear eye protection to prevent foreign particles blowing into the eyes
- Wear hard hats where falling objects are a hazard and ensure the chin strap is worn
It’s critical that you have an appropriate procedure for adverse weather in your Safety Management System based on your operations. If you work in areas that are subject to cyclones a procedure for cyclones should also be in place.
Without these procedures in place for adverse weather conditions and cyclones if necessary you put yourself and the lives of your crew and/or workers at risk.
Make sure everything is secured appropriately giving consideration to your operations and the prevailing and forecast weather.
The one area that we stress in in the vessel’s galley because there’s usually a lot of “unsecured” items which can easily turn into projectiles and cause serious injury.
The other area for passenger vessel is the cafeteria if there’s one due to the reasons above but with added for potential injuries to passengers!
For shore based businesses, look around your facility, firstly outside for items that have the potential to become airborne or present other dangers and secure them. Then check inside for potential dangers such as if a window shatters or breaks.
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