Having the right medical stores onboard can and has saved lives. This is why AMSA have documented lists based on your vessels area of operations.

NSCV Section C7A states that sufficient and appropriate medical supplies must be maintained to treat likely individual injuries until professional medical treatment becomes available.

In the NSCV Annex H Requirements for medical supplies Table H1 Medical assistance times specifies the time period in which medical assistance can be obtained and which Scale applies.

Location: First Aid kits

The first aid kit shall be located adjacent to the Masters accommodation or in the wheelhouse. In small partly open vessel, the first aid kit shall be stowed so as to protect it from incoming salt and spray.

Location: Medical Cabinets

All vessels covered by Scale D and E shall be provided with a medical cabinet of suitable size, design and construction for storing medical supplies

In DCV’s they shall be located either:

  • The Masters accommodation; or
  • In a dry and cool space accessible to the Master and a nominated crew member.

Maintenance of first aid kits and medical cabinets

First Aid kits and medical cabinets shall be cleaned and checked every three (3) months. It’s vital to ensure medical supplies with expiry dates are monitored and replaced when passed their expiry date.

We often come across owners, Master and crew members who believe that the expiry dates are not important, and the medicines continue to work when expired. The simple fact is they have expiry dates as the medicine’s components start to break down and fail making them less effective every day following their expiry date!

Flexibility to determine the type and quantity of first aid supplies

If you are operating in Class C, C Restricted, D or E waters, and are required to meet the National Standard for Commercial Vessels (NSCV) Part C7A (Safety Equipment), you now have flexibility to determine the type and quantity of first aid supplies that are appropriate for your operation.

To do this you need to apply for an equivalent solution.

Equivalent Solution

The owner/Master of a vessel operating in operational area C, C Restricted, D or E may undertake a risk assessment of their vessel and operation and determine the appropriate type and quantity of first aid supplies that are to be carried onboard the vessel for that operation.

The risk assessment and subsequent determination of the type and quantity of first aid supplies carried onboard must:

  • Consider the required outcomes of the NSCV Part C7A; and
  • As a minimum comply with the WHS Code of Practice; and
  • Where necessary include additional items needed to address identified risks including the following:
  • Distance/access to medical aid;
  • Communication capability to access medical assistance and advice;
  • Type of operation and activities being undertaken (e.g., types and level of hazards likely to be encountered);
  • Length of voyage;
  • Number of persons onboard (e.g., children, elderly, level of experience, gender, etc.);
  • The level of first aid training of the crew, personnel and persons onboard including the first aid procedures and drills carried out onboard the vessel;
  • Prevailing or expected environmental conditions likely to be encountered on the voyage;
  • Incidents and accidents that have occurred in the operation and in the wider industry sector.

To enable regular review and ease of resupply, it is recommended that the risk assessment and resulting list of first aid items that will be carried onboard the vessel are kept with the records or as part of the vessels SMS.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

We strongly recommend that you check your medical supplies against the Scale relevant to your operations and that all items with expiry dates are replaced where the expiry date has passed.

Secondly we recommend you keep a copy of the scale relevant to your operations with your medical supplies for easy reference.

For recording medical incidents and supplies, we recommend the use of a Log Book.  Shorlink has produced and updated a Medical Log Book which can be ordered from us with free postage.  Please contact us HERE and we will be in touch. (Website updated shortly)


If you carry extra medical supplies our best tip is to ensure you have a list of those with your required scale list.

If you need a list of what’s required either go to the AMSA website or email us providing the following information and we’ll send you a printable list along with an additional medicines form.


Forklifts are powerful vehicles that are ideal for lifting and carrying heavy loads, but they have their own set of hazards to look out for in the workplace.

Some of the most common forklift accidents include

  • overturns
  • falls from a forklift
  • person being struck with a forklift

Below are a few hazards when operating forklifts which includes but are not limited to:

  1. Attachments

Attachments are a source of several forklift hazards since different attachments affect both the lift’s operating clearances and overall capacity. Attachments also add weight to a lift and reduce the capacity of the load. A forklift operator should acquaint themselves with each attachment used including the safety protocols and capacity limits to account for any potential operational changes.

Poor maintenance of the attachments and forklift itself can pose safety risks as well. Worn forks, stretched chains, and other run-down parts can put you at risk of an accident. Do a thorough check of the entire lift prior to starting the job. This ensures that everything is functioning and safe to use.

You should also make sure you’re choosing the right forklift and attachments for your specific job.

  1. Fuelling

Refuelling and recharging poses potential safety hazards due to the fuel’s flammability risk. Diesel and propane are both flammable while battery recharging generates flammable gas. Due to this, you should never smoke near a refuelling or recharging area. Poor ventilation heightens the potential risk of fires and also encourages the build-up of toxic fumes like carbon monoxide.

  1. Maneuvering

Improperly driving a forklift presents its own set of dangers. Drivers can potentially collide with things like pedestrians and other tools if they’re not paying close attention to their surroundings.

Maneuvering a forklift is difficult since you’ll mostly drive in reverse for most jobs due to an obstructed frontal view from the load. Rear-end steering makes the forklift take tight turns in the front but swings wide in the back. Drivers should take this into account when navigating a bustling work zone in a forklift. Narrow or cluttered aisles, high pedestrian traffic, and other outdoor and warehouse safety concerns also make maneuvering tough.

  1. Speed

Another forklift hazard to look out for is the lift’s speed. The weight combined with speed creates momentum that is hard to stop at high speeds. To avoid this, forklift operators should follow all posted speed limits and drive at a cautious speed.

  1. Blind spots

Blind spots are especially dangerous when operating a forklift since unexpected impact causes serious injuries. Full loads obstruct the operator’s view and force them to drive backward at times as mentioned above. Drivers should be comfortable driving a forklift and should also have a spotter when manoeuvring around blind spots.

Poor lighting and weather conditions can also decrease visibility and make it more difficult to navigate blind spots. It’s also essential to learn their route for the project to prepare for potential blind spots, obstacles and other forklift hazards. Employees should direct pedestrians away from any blind spots and block off the entire work area if possible.

  1. Floor conditions

The surrounding work area presents several potential forklift dangers. Debris, puddles, unstable ground and other floor obstructions can cause falls or overturns if not immediately taken into account. You should clear the ground of obstructions and hazards and plan to avoid any unfixable floor hurdles before beginning the job. 

  1. Inclines and ramps

Operating on inclines and ramps pose a risk due to the forklift’s heavy weight. You should drive forward with the load in front when driving up an incline or ramp.

If you’re going down an incline or ramp with a load, you should drive in reverse. Parking brakes and chocks are a must if you need to park on an incline but should be avoided if at all possible. You should never turn on inclines or ramps. 

  1. Loads

Loads are another source of possible forklift hazards depending on what and how much you’re carrying. You should always secure your loads before moving the forklift and double-check that the load is both stable and not exceeding capacity.

Any of these things can result in overturns and other accidents. It’s also important to operate with extra caution when carrying hazardous materials since any spills or drops can endanger the entire work place.

  1. Travelling with elevated load

This happens much too frequently. This is a common mistake we often see committed by the operator. The forklift should not be driven or repositioned when its load is elevated.

When traveling, the forks should be just below the front axle height or at a minimum distance from the floor surface, the height of the forks should clear the ramp and bump of the operating surface even because even with a small bump on the floor can cause the load to fall off.

If the load is too bulky and is blocking the forward view, travel in reverse instead and make sure that the mast is tilted back against the backrest to make the load more stabilized to transport. 

  1. Improperly balanced or unsecured load

This is another cause of forklift tip over. The heavy load being carried can make the forklift go sideways when the load is not properly balanced or unsecured.

Always make sure the load is properly placed on the pallet and that they’re evenly distributed, cross tied if possible, before transport so that it won’t rock or tilt.

If the load is heavy, see first the destination of travel it if is flat or rough so that you can know how the truck be driven on the surface. 

  1. Leaving the forklift with engine running or forks raised!

Leaving a forklift while it is still running and/or with its forks raised should never be done.

A forklift is considered unattended when the operator leaves it, and it is not in his view. Even the operator is just a few meters away from the vehicle but when its view is obstructed, it is still considered unattended.

A forklift should be left or parked in the proper parking area. When parking, the forks should be lowered, the controls should be neutralized, its engine should be shut off and the brakes should be set. Never park the forklift and leave it with the keys still in the ignition.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

We strongly recommend that ALL persons operating a forklift hold a current Forklift License. We also recommend that as an employer you ensure all forklift operators are trained in your workplace operations and evaluate their performance at least once every three (3) years.

Unlicensed operators put you and your organisation at risk in the event of an incident or upon a visit from WorkSafe.


A good tip is to ensure forklift operators are dressed in the appropriate safety equipment, including safety shoes, hard-hats, and a high-visibility jacket. Make sure to tuck away loose clothing to prevent it from getting caught on the forklift.



The documents required by AMSA today and, with so many options of hard copies versus electronic it’s difficult to completely understand what is required onboard.

We have listed the primary documents that should be carried onboard  Domestic Commercial Vessels (DCV) at all times:

  1. Vessel Certificate 

    You must always carry your vessel’s Certificate of Operation (CoO) and/or Certificate of Survey (CoS) on board. This can be in hard copy or an electronic version, such as a copy on your smart phone.
    Your vessel’s certificates and surveys must be available upon request by an AMSA inspector or their compliance partners.

  1. Permissions 

    Any permissions relevant to your vessel’s operations; e.g., landing permits for specific locations, etc., must always be carried onboard. As with Certificates these may be in hard copy or an electronic version, such as a copy on your smart phone.

  1. Safety Management System 

    All DCV are required to have a Safety Management System (SMS) that complies with Marine Order 504 (MO504) Again this may be in hard copy or an electronic version.

  1. Vessel/Deck Log Book 

    All commercial vessels are required to have a vessel or deck log book in which they are required to record specific information (see our newsletter dated 15/03/2022 for details).

  1. Maintenance Log 

    All maintenance must be recorded either in a dedicated form in your SMS, a Maintenance Log Book or in an electronic maintenance program.

  1. Sewage Management Plan 

    All declared Ships must ensure they have a Sewage Management Plan onboard and available for inspection.All vessels, including recreational and commercial vessels that are fitted with sewage treatment system must ensure they have the appropriate documentation and follow specific guidelines.

    What is a Declared Ship?

    A declared ship has a fixed toilet and is:

  • a domestic commercial vessel with a certificate of operation issued, or taken to be issued, under the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012 stating it is a class 1B, 1C, 1D, 1E, 4C, 4D or 4E ship, or
  • any other Queensland regulated ship regulated under the Transport Operations (Marine Safety) Act 1994 and Transport Operations (Marine Safety) Regulation 2016 designed to carry more than 12 passengers.
  1. Copies and/or receipts for serviceable items service for inflatable life rafts, electrical installations, fire extinguishers, EPIRB,

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Number one recommendation is to ensure you have ALL the required documents onboard at all times. You must be able to present the relevant documents to AMSA or their delegates when asked.

Secondly it’s not good enough to just have them onboard, they must be up to date which means you need to ensure your SMS is reviewed annually and your log books are filled in daily when operational.


If for any reason you are unsure about exactly what you require on your vessel, what format is best for you (hard copy or electronic) or anything in relation to documents required don’t hesitate to contact our office!

It’s amazing that when we do training onboard vessels that so many of the crew can’t identify the different fire extinguishers. That’s a big problem because not being able to identify different extinguishers and what their purpose can be a major problem.

All fire extinguishers are colour coded with a band that identifies the type and classes of fires they are suitable for. So, in this newsletter we’ll list the most common types of extinguishers used on vessels.

Firstly, let’s look at the different classes of fires.

The Classes of Fire

Class A fires: combustible materials: caused by flammable solids, such as wood, paper, and fabric
Class B fires: flammable liquids: such as petrol, turpentine or paint
Class C fires: flammable gases: like LPG, hydrogen, butane or methane
Class D fires: combustible metals: chemicals such as magnesium, aluminium or potassium
Class E fires: electrical equipment: once the electrical item is removed, the fire changes class
Class F fires: cooking oils: typically, a chip-pan fire

An easy way to determine which fire extinguisher to use is by the different coloured bands on the top of each cylinder. This coloured band tells us what type of fire extinguisher it is therefore allowing us to recognise which fire to use it for.

The 3 most common fire extinguishers used on vessels and our recommendations.

Dry Powder or Dry Chemical

Dry Powder extinguishers are identified by a WHITE band and are good for all classes of fires. These extinguishers are our best recommendation for general use on vessels. We strongly recommend these for use in galleys, accommodation areas, wheelhouses and all other areas. In land based operations they are also the best general use extinguisher. Also ideal for use in offices and factories.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

CO2 extinguishers are identified by a BLACK band and have been designed for Class E fires. Designed specifically for electrical equipment such as switchboards, electrical machinery, etc. These extinguishers work by removing the oxygen from the environment therefore there is a risk of asphyxiation especially in confined spaces. We recommend these for wheelhouses and other areas where there are switchboards or other electrical machinery.


Foam extinguishers are identified by a BLUE band are used for Class A and Class B fires. They are exceptionally good with flammable liquid fires such as gasoline, petroleum greases and oil based paints. It is NOT advised to use a foam extinguisher for Class F fires in other words fires involving fats and oils. We recommend foam extinguishers for engine rooms and other areas where machinery is located.

Wet Chemical

Wet Chemical extinguishers are identified by YELLOW band and are used for Class A and Class F fires. These are not seen so often in vessels, but they are ideal for use in galleys and commercial kitchens where there is a risk of a fire involving cooking oils and fats. Wet Chemical extinguishers must not be used on electrical fires. We recommend these extinguishers in galleys of vessels that carry passengers and have a galley or food preparation areas.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

We strongly recommend you ensue all of your crew or relevant workers know how to identify fire extinguishers and the Classes of fires they are designed to deal with.

Secondly we also highly recommend all crew and workers know how to use a fire extinguisher. Sadly, we find that so many people don’t know how to effectively use fire extinguishers and say we’ll read the instruction when needed. By then it’s too late!


Remember , it’s vital that you can identify different fire extinguisher types and what they are designed to be used for. This applies not only onboard but is critical knowledge for everyday life!

If you would like a chart identifying the different types of fire extinguishers and their applications just email our office and we’ll send you one by email for FREE!

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 severe 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

Shorlink’s Recommendation

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.

Need help than contact our office on 07 4242 1412 or email sms@shorlink.com


This is a safety reminder to business operators to review their contingency plans for the 2021-22 cyclone season.

Employers in control of workplaces in cyclone sensitive regions must have adequate plans in place and provide adequate training to protect workers in the event of a cyclone.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology’s Australian Tropical Cyclone Outlook (link is external), the cyclone season runs from November to April.

Each year an average of three tropical cyclones occur in the Northern region and an average of four cyclones occur in the Eastern region.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology the Norther region has a 57% chance of more tropical cyclones this season while the Eastern region has a 66% chance of more tropical cyclones.

Cyclones can isolate workers by cutting off access to emergency services, roads, transport, power, infrastructure and communications.

Cyclonic weather conditions increase hazards to crew members and workers and may devastate commercial vessel operations and shore-based businesses!,

Commercial vessel and business operators must prepare response plans for the likely risks of cyclones.

Operators must also coordinate the plans for sites with multiple employers by appropriately training all workers.

“All crew members and employees must know exactly what actions to take in the event of a cyclone.”

Employers in control of workplaces should consider the following:

  • Develop emergency procedures and plans
  • Regularly review training and include the plan when providing on-site inductions.
  • Detail site-safe actions to be undertaken at all levels of cyclone warning phases. For example: remove or restrain loose objects or structures; have step-by-step plans for the safe evacuation of workers; and have clear communication protocols established for reaching all personnel on-site during all cyclone alert warning phases.
  • All transportable buildings on worksites in cyclone sensitive regions are to be adequately secured including accommodation units, dongas and offices.
  • Plan for a safe and orderly evacuation of non-essential personnel prior to worsening conditions e.g., during the blue and yellow cyclone warning phases.
  • All personnel remaining on-site during the cyclone should move to an appropriate designated shelter well in advance of the arrival of the cyclone.
  • Adequate food, drinking water, medical supplies and other essential items are to be available for all isolated workers.
  • During the red alert cyclone warning phase, a reliable emergency backup communication is to be available for contact with external emergency services.
  • Cyclone warnings are monitored via radio, television or the Bureau of Meteorology websites. Battery-powered radios are to be available in the event of power interruptions on site.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

If you operate a vessel or a business in cyclone regions you should have a procedure in place which covers all warning phases including:

  • Pre-cyclone
  • Cyclone watch
  • Cyclone alert

If in doubt or unable to complete, please contact our office for assistance.


Our best tip is if you don’t have a cyclone procedure in place – contact our office for assistance.

In addition to a cyclone procedures, it’s wise to have a Continuity Plan in place in the event your vessel or business suffers damage or loss not only due to a cyclone but any other major event.

Working over the side of a vessel involves many risks and can be and has been the cause of serious injuries and loss of life.

When we say working over the side most people think of leaning over the side of the vessel being secured by a safety harness over the side for maintenance, repairs or even cleaning.

Unfortunately, many crew members don’t think of going out on the trawl booms as working over the side, but the fact is you are over the side of the vessel and often in an even more dangerous situation.

Over the years very little attention has been paid to this task but on many commercial vessels it’s a task that occurs regularly and often without safety precautions.

While working over the side while secured by a safety harness, has dangers you are relatively safe in comparison to being out at the end of a trawl boom!

It’s not just trawl booms, other vessels have booms for stabilisers and you can find yourself out on those at times as well due to a number of reasons.

The fact is that all booms represent a hazardous work area no matter what safety features are incorporated. Booms are designed to do a specific job often with little or no consideration of safety.

Booms are usually constructed out of metal tube or pipe which means they are round which presents a problem for walking on, especially in wet and/or rough conditions.

When out on the end of a trawler boom you have a number of hazardous items to contend with while undertaking any task.

Things like stay wires, trawl cables, boards and sleds and nets all present serious risks especially when trying to hang on and walking on a circular platform that is wet and often dipping into the water.

Some trawl booms have grab rails as a safety measure but while helpful you are still at risk when out on the boom so…what safety measures can you incorporate?

In all the Safety Management System manuals we develop for trawlers and other vessels with booms or arms we always include a procedure for working over the side and on trawl booms or arms.

In this procedure we specify the wearing of a Level 150 PFD for persons working over the side and on booms or arms.

Some operators include the wearing of a safety harness when working on booms which is attached to the vessel and while it may seem like a good idea it has inherent dangers.

These include the fact that if you fall off the boom you can end up being caught up in cables or stay wires, being dragged under or even crashed against the side of the vessel in rough weather.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Our primary recommendation is to include a procedure for working over the side and on trawl booms which includes the mandatory wearing of a Level 150 PFD for all persons working over the side and especially when going out on trawl booms or arms.


While having Level 150 PFD’s available it’s critical that they are in good condition and in service. Most PFD’s need to be serviced annually so make sure yours are serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

As lifejackets are subject to harsh conditions including but not limited to exposure to the sun, salt water, weather conditions, etc. regularly check them for damage and either service them or replace them if necessary.

Remember, lifejackets only work if you are wearing them!

While storing chemicals (either onboard or in a workplace) may seem like a minor issue, the reality is it can lead to catastrophic outcomes!

There are specific requirements in relation to handling and storing chemicals. Many chemicals are fine to be stored next to each other, but some are not.

Some chemicals when stored together have the potential to present major hazards including explosion, fire, corrosive actions, etc.

Handling some chemicals can present potential health hazards ranging from minor skin irritations to sever buns, respiratory problems and many other health hazards.

In the workplace it’s easy to have a n approved flammable liquid storage cabinet but onboard vessels (depending on the vessels size) can be difficult. No matter whether onshore or onboard it’s important to identify flammable liquids correctly using a sign like below.

Other chemicals have labels specific to the potential hazard they present, e.g., Corrosive, Oxidizing, etc.

Safety Data Sheets (SDS) (previously called Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)

All chemicals used in the workplace (ashore or onboard) must have a SDS available for all crew and/or workers. The only exception is for domestic products bought of the shelf which are usually in small containers only, not 5 – 25 litres.

The SDS provides all the handling, storage, medical advice, PPE and potential hazards about the product in detail.

Handling chemicals

No matter what the chemical is, whether its and cleaning liquid, de greaser, fuel, etc. always check the SDS for any specific handling information. Identify what, if any PPE is required and do not at any time just go ahead and use chemicals that you are not familiar with or been instructed in their use.

Storing chemicals

Back too the SDS to check the storage requirements of each chemical and to identify if there are any specific requirements relative to that product.

Note that some chemicals can not be stored in close proximity to other specific chemical. Always check that you are not storing any “non-compatible” chemicals together.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

The key recommendation for any hazardous chemicals and/or materials is to read the SDS and at a minimum check:

  • Hazardous identification
  • Potential health effects
  • First Aid Measures
  • Fire Fighting Measures
  • Handling and Storage
  • Toxicological information

By at least checking and following the above information you’ll eliminate potential hazards to yourself, others and the environment.


The best tip today is to identify what PPE is required and follow those recommendations to eliminate or at least minimise the risk of health hazards to yourself and others.

Don’t just think I’m only using this chemical for a couple of minutes, what’s the harm? The harm is that with some chemicals the potential for health related issues is immediate or close to it!

On the 4th October 2018 at around 10.41am a young man died due to a sea snake bite while working on prawn trawler in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

At  8.20am the young man  was ensuring the nets were folding correctly into the sorting tray when the Master observed him shake his hand as if in pain. The victim said he had been bitten on the finger by a snake.

The Master observed what he believed was either a black banded or elegant sea snake which he removed from the net and through over the side. He then made a call to another vessel and then the Royal Flying Doctor at 8.23am.

From here on is the critical part in regard to any snake bite, but especially when in remote areas such as in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

The Master told the victim to take a shower then go to the wheelhouse where his hand was soaked in a bowl of Dettol, iodine and water. His arm was then wrapped from the armpit to the wrist with a compression bandage.

Not the actual victim.

At 08.43 the Master called Careflight at which time the vessel was some 57 nautical miles from South Point, Groote Eylandt. During a conference call a plan was established to steam towards Alyangula, a town on Groot Eylandt which is a further 23 nautical miles past South Point where there is a health clinic.

At that point the vessel was only 38.40 nautical miles from Bing Bong, a port and loading facility for the McArthur River mine.

From there it all started to go down hill with the victim with signs of envenomation becoming evident. The Master made another call to Careflight to seek medical advice.

The victim said “Yeah I feel fine, no pain. At 09.55 the Master told the doctors that the victim remained well, but he did mention that he was closer to Bing Bong than Alyangula.

At 10.10 the Master was directed to turn around and steam to Bing Bong. At that point the vessel was 42.41 nautical miles from South Point and 48.15 nautical miles from Bing Bong.

At 10.18 AMSA contacted the RAAF to determine if a helicopter could be sent which the RAAF agreed to do and advised the ETA was 15.15.

By 10.28 the victim was in rapid deterioration. At 10.41 the victim became unresponsive and CPR was commenced and was maintained for the next 4 hours.

Alyangula Police sent a Police vessel with 2 clinic nurses to meet the vessel. At 11.26 a jet set off from Cairns with an estimated flying time of 2 hours to drop medical supplies to the vessel.

At 12.50 a fast catamaran set out from Bing Bong with a doctor and nurse onboard with sufficient equipment to intubate the victim. They boarded the vessel at 14.30. The victim could not be revived, and he was declared deceased at 14.28 hours.

A draft WorkSafe investigation report stated:

  • The vessels Masters Log contained no information and did not meet the requirement of the SMS;
  • There were no induction records or records of training and drills;
  • The hazard mitigations for marine animals were stated in the SMS to be PPE, on the job training and the policy on handling marine organisms. However, the PPE required was not specified and there was no policy on handling marine organisms.

Note that ALL sea snakes are venomous, and all bites should be treated as a medical emergency!

Shorlink’s Recommendation

If you operate a trawler or any other vessel where you encounter sea snakes review (or develop) a procedure for handling them which includes the use of snake grabbers or hooks and include a snake bite kit in your first aid supplies.


When buying bandages for snake bites make sure you purchase specifically made snake bite compression bandages with indicator. It’s critical you get the right compression to reduce lymphatic flow which is where the venom is.

WorkSafe recently issued a safety alert about the risks associated with hot works, after a fire was started. The fire started while bolts were being cut with an oxy-acetylene torch during maintenance activities.

Hot work is any work that has the potential to ignite nearby combustible, flammable or explosive material.

Common hot work tasks include welding, cutting, grinding and heat treatment, and hot work processes can create hazards such as:


  • Fire: caused by heat, molten metal, sparks or direct contact with cutting or welding flames.
  • Explosions: caused by the presence of gas, liquid vapours or suspended flammable dust.
  • Toxic fumes: generated directly from the hot work process or through heat decomposition of nearby material(s).

These hazards create a serious risk to workers health and safety that can lead to injury, illness and death.

For example, burns from heat radiation or contact with flames, sparks, molten metal or hot surfaces, and exposure to hazardous fumes.

Hot work processes have the potential to ignite fires that can travel beyond site boundaries. Fires may also start well after the completion of any hot work activities due to residual heat.

The Australian Standard AS/NZS 1674.1:1997 – Safety in welding and allied processes Part 1: Fire Precautions may be of benefit when identifying and controlling risks.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

I recommend a number of control measures be put in place when undertaking hot works:

  • Identify any potentially flammable or combustible materials in the area, such as rubbish, dust, oils, grease, rubber, plastics, or other substances that could be potential fuel sources or generate dust explosions.
  • Remove any flammable or combustible material in the area. If materials cannot be removed use flameproof covers or screens or wet the materials down before and during the work.
  • Ensure the area is adequately ventilated.
  • Assign a designated fire watch person to monitor the hot work environment.
  • Conduct post-work inspections for smouldering material prior to leaving the area. For example, before a break, at the end of a shift or at the completion of work.
  • Ensure adequate firefighting equipment is available and ready for use.
  • Identify and establish suitable exclusion zones for personnel and vehicles.
  • Ensure workers are wearing appropriate non-flammable personal protective equipment.
  • Establish and train all personnel on emergency and evacuation procedures.


My number one tip is to develop a procedure for hot works which covers off on what hot work includes and what precautions are to be required when undertaking hot works.

I would also include a list of high-risk areas such as confined or enclosed spaces.