Over the years, most common work-related injuries and fatality rates have decreased thanks to an increase in workplace health and safety measures. But there is still a lot of work to do to get that number down to zero.

The most common work injuries are slips, trips, and falls, overexertion, and contact with equipment. All of these injuries are mostly preventable by taking the proper precautions and adhering to workplace procedures. In this article, we’ll look at the most common work-related injuries and provide some helpful guidelines on how to prevent them.

If you are currently experiencing any type of workplace injury, do not wait to seek medical attention. Even if it seems small, injuries due to falls, overexertion, burns, etc. can progress over time and cause serious complications later on.

The 7 most common workplace injuries

  1. Slips, trips, and falls

Slips, trips, and falls are some of the most common types of workplace injuries and are the top reason for worker’s compensation claims. This includes workers who:

  • Slipped on an icy, oily, or wet floor
  • Tripped due to unprotected sides or holes, poor lighting, or clutter
  • Fell off ladders, roofs, cabin tops, etc.

These types of injuries can be prevented by being aware of your surroundings and by following the operational procedure for Working at Heights

  1. Overexertion and muscle strains

Overexertion injuries like muscle strains and repetitive strain injuries (RSI) can cause long-term debilitating pain and lead to an overall loss in productivity. This type of occupational injury can be caused by:

  • Improper lifting technique
  • Manually lifting heavy objects
  • Repetitive work with no breaks
  • Jumping to another level
  • A collapsing structure
  • Lifting, pushing, carrying, or throwing
  • Microtasks on a factory line
  • Typing or moving a mouse without good ergonomics

To prevent overexertion and muscle strains you should always be following an operational procedure for Manual Handling. Remember, if it’s too heavy ask someone else to help you or use a lifting device or forklift.

To avoid overexertion and reduce your risk for lasting physical harm, ensure you take frequent breaks and that you are using that time to rest and stretch

Untreated injuries can progress over time, causing you more issues down the road.

  1. Struck by workers, equipment, or falling objects

We’ve all walked into the sharp edge of a counter or turned into a wall, but when you’re working in a high-risk industry, these injuries can be far more serious. These types of injuries can include severe hand injuries, severed limbs or fingers, traumatic head injuries, stress fractures or full bone breaks, blindness, and more.

Workplace injuries of this nature are commonly caused by:

  • Poorly guarded machinery
  • Falling tools, debris, or materials
  • A part of the worker’s body being caught in a winch, wire or gears
  • Dropped loads
  • Pressure between the person and the source of the injury
  • The tipping over of heavy equipment
  • Excessive vibration
  • Bumping into an object or equipment
  • Being pushed into a hard surface of any kind
  • Walking into walls or machinery

Thankfully, many of these accidents can be prevented by staying aware of your surroundings, following established policies and procedures, using the proper personal protective equipment (PPE), avoiding loose clothing, and putting away unnecessary hazards.

What happened to the Master: Do you know?

  1. Crashes or collisions

Whether you’re driving a motor vehicle, including forklifts or are working around them, you are at risk of getting hurt in a crash or collision. For example, if you’re working on the ground in a warehouse, you could be hit or run over by a forklift.

Other instances resulting in a crash or collision could include:

  • Falling from a vehicle
  • Forklift roll-over
  • Getting stuck under an overturned vehicle
  • Large-truck drivers drinking and driving
  • Being struck by objects falling from a vehicle
  • Semi, tractor-trailer, and tanker truck crashes

When operating any type of motorised vehicle, ensure you are wearing your seat belt and taking the proper safety measures established by your employer.

Collision V Grounding DO you know the difference?

  1. Exposure to harmful substances or environments

Those who work in loud environments or around hazardous chemicals risk severe injuries to their ears, eyes, skin, and respiratory systems if they are exposed without proper protection.

Be sure to familiarise yourself with any chemical safety data sheets and wear proper ear protection, safety goggles, gloves, and any other required PPE when exposed to harmful substances or loud noises.

6. Fire and explosions

Fires and explosions can burn your body tissue, cause severe damage to your respiratory system, and potentially cause disfigurement. This type of workplace injury is not too common, but it does have the highest casualty rate depending on how close you are to the blast. Injuries for explosions are categorized into four types based on level of impact to your body:

  • Primary blast: injury caused by the blast wave unique to high order explosions
  • Secondary blast: injury due to flying objects or debris displaced by the blast wind
  • Tertiary blast: injury due to displacement through the air or a structure collapse
  • Quaternary blast: all other injuries including crush injuries, burns, radiation, and inhaling toxic substances

To avoid these types of injuries, ensure that you and your co-workers are following Operational procedures, wearing the proper personal protective equipment (PPE), and maintaining chemical safety data sheets for all chemicals.

  1. Violence and other injuries by persons or animals

As much as we’d like to think that fighting at work doesn’t exist, it does happens! Compounding stress and tension can result in an aggressive confrontation from an employee or customer, leading to harassment, intimidation, and even physical assault. Injury caused by animals can also be a concern for commercial fishers, foresters and individuals working on a farm or in other environments where animals, like dogs, are present.

One of the best ways for a worker to avoid workplace violence is to set a zero-tolerance policy covering all individuals who come in contact with company personnel. When working with animals, you can reduce injury by wearing the proper attire, following guidelines set by your employer, and staying alert at all times.

Common causes of work-related fatalities

The “fatal four” work-related fatalities leading to death include:

  • Being struck by a moving vehicle or object / motor vehicle crashes
  • Slips, trips, and falls from tall heights
  • Electrocutions
  • Getting caught in or between machines, devices, or tools

Although you cannot control when an accident occurs, there are steps you can take to reduce work-related injuries and help keep yourself safe.

If you feel or suspect that the safety of yourself or others are at risk, never hesitate to report it to your company.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

We strongly recommend you review your operational procedures in relation to all tasks undertaken on your vessel or in your workplace. Ensure they are clear, conscience and easy to follow.

Secondly it’s vital that you review your emergency procedures relative to your operations to ensure your workers know what to do in the event of an emergency.

Remember, keeping your procedures up to date is a legal requirement under the Work Health and Safety Act and associated Regulations.


While keeping your procedures up to date is great if workers have not been inducted into procedures relevant to their assigned tasks they are all but useless!

Ensure you induct all workers into procedures relevant to their operations and the best tip we can give you is to have a sign off page for all procedures and have each worker sign off them.


Drowning doesn’t mean flailing arms and calling for help.


 Knowing these silent signs of drowning can mean the difference between life and death.


 This newsletter is not only for those at sea but is critical knowledge for anyone around water anywhere!


If two or more people are in the water, which one do you rescue first?

Unfortunately, the fact is that often those watching don’t know what to look for because drowning doesn’t look like drowning.

Do you go first to the person waving their arms and yelling or to the one who is quiet and not waving and yelling?

In most cases you’re going to the person who is NOT waving and yelling!

Read on to discover what you need to look for….


To ward off a tragedy in the making, watch for these 8 signs that someone is in trouble!


  1. They can’t call for help
    They have to be able to breathe before they can speak. When a person is drowning, their mouth sinks below and reappears above the surface of the water. There isn’t time for them to exhale, inhale, and call out.

  1. They can’t wave for help either.
    A drowning person instinctively extends their arms to the sides and presses down to lift their mouth out of the water; a child may extend their arms forward. They can’t use their arms to wave, move toward a rescuer or reach for rescue equipment.
  1. They remain upright in the water with no evidence of kicking. They can struggle for only 20 to 60 seconds before going under.
  1. Their eyes are glassy and unable to focus or closed.
  1. Their face may be hard to see as their hair may be over their forehead or eyes.
  1. Their Head is low in the water with their mouth at water level and their head may be tilted back with mouth open. A child’s head may fall forward.
  1. They are quiet.
    Children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you need to get to them and find out why.
  1. They don’t seem in distress.
    Sometimes the most important indicator that someone is drowning is that they don’t look like they are drowning. They may just seem to be looking up at the sky, shore or the vessel. Ask them, “Are you all right?” If they can answer at all, they probably are BUT if they return a blank stare, you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

We strongly recommend you and your crew and/or workers if they work around water, know the 8 quite signs of a person drowning AND have up to date CPR training.

By simply knowing these signs allows you to understand the difference between someone who needs immediate help and another who may be able to survive a little longer when there are 2 or more persons in the water.


When someone is in the water throw anything that floats towards them to help support them until you can rescue them. If there’s a lifebuoy close at hand throw it towards them.

Remember you don’t want this to be the last thing you see of the victim!

Since March 2020, the marine industry has had many highs and lows. From little or no business, to high levels and too often without enough staff. Staffing in Australia and indeed the world over in most industries is an ongoing major issue.

Whilst the supply of goods by sea and some services has continued throughout the pandemic, we now face staff shortages both on sea and land which makes the working conditions continue to be challenging.

Maritime safety data and research highlight a critical need for the marine industry mental health and wellbeing to be managed more effectively, to achieve better outcomes. Here at Shorlink, we take mental health as serious as safety.

Stress can lead to mental health issues. This newsletter provides information and guidance to provide business owners’ and Masters with strategies to help alleviate the effects of stress.

It also talks about the importance of educating crew about mental health, in order to create a culture on board in which crew are able to identify when their fellow crew members are experiencing poor mental health and support one another.

Educating Crew!

It is important that masters receive adequate education on the psychological impact of stress and mental health issues. Masters need to:

  • have a good knowledge of both the short and long-term consequences of stress
  • ensure crew in their charge have appropriate information and awareness
  • establish prevention and minimisation programs
  • be able to identify crew members having problems
  • initiate the necessary assistance if required—this may include masters and senior crew being instructed in mental health first aid.

Recognise the signs of possible mental health problems!

If a crew member displays any of the following behaviours, they may be experiencing mental health problems:

  • appears to withdraw, isolates themselves, or seems quieter than usual
  • appears distressed
  • agitated or irritable
  • difficulty managing work or workload
  • more argumentative, aggressive or gets into conflicts
  • confused, unusually forgetful or has
  • trouble concentrating
  • behaving in a way that is out of character.

The following are some suggestions which can be used to assist crew members suffering from mental health difficulties:

  • spend time with the person
  • offer your assistance and a listening ear, but do not intrude on that person’s privacy. Be mindful that there may sometimes be deeper problems that underlie the initial problem they mention
  • help them with any practical arrangements they require
  • do not take their emotions personally, as this is probably a part of their reaction
  • do not downplay or dismiss their problems. Do not tell them they are ‘lucky the situation isn’t worse’—they probably don’t feel lucky
  • help them to re-establish a normal schedule as quickly as possible. If possible, include them in the activities of others
  • encourage them to be active and involved
  • encourage them to look at what they can manage, rather than just thinking about what they want to avoid.

Managing crew reactions!

After a mental health-related or other stressful event, crew members are often very sensitive to:

  • how others react to them
  • how others may describe the event and the role of the crew member involved,
  • particularly in terms of their reactions to their colleagues.

The extent to which the work/social network validates or invalidates the experience has a very important effect upon the crew members psychological adaptation or recovery.

If all crew are aware of the stressors and their potential impact, the experience of crew members having a mental health issue is more likely to be recognised and validated. If masters are aware of the principles of mental health first aid, crew are more likely to receive appropriate support following mental health issues.

Crews with low morale typically exhibit the highest risk for psychological injuries. This is because strong morale acts as a buffer or protective layer against the effects of mental health issues and other stressors.

This should be factored into decisions that may affect the management of mental health risk.

At regular intervals, the master should schedule the following:

  • An informal debrief—this provides crew with the ability to say how they are going and allows for the reiteration of mental health information and awareness
  • recognition by a valued authority— have someone, like the master, acknowledge the crew and the efforts they have made
  • follow up contact with crew members who may have been identified as likely to suffer mental health issues to see how they are travelling.

Owners and operators need to ensure that the conditions in which their crew work and live do not exacerbate mental health problems.

A crew members ability to access mental health services at sea is limited, hence the incorporation of strategies for mental health interventions is an essential service.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Training staff, from Master to deckhands on mental health first aid is imperative to ensure the business is providing a healthy working environment.

Breaking down the stigma, both on board and ashore, regarding mental health issues. It should be no different than any other injury or illness.

Be alert for potential signs of mental health issues among crew members.

Proactively manage cases of mental health issues, including repatriation if appropriate.

Maintain a fair, just and supportive crew environment, as part of a positive safety culture. Resource poor environment is even more important.

Specific attention is needed in higher risk periods of the work-life cycle, such as during periods of contract extension, operating season and inability to take shore leave.


It all starts from the top down – both with attitude and education!

Emphasis should be given to training for mental health awareness and resilience. Owners and Masters should be trained in mental health first aid.

If you have any questions, or require assistance with training, please contact our office.

This is important! Please do not hesitate to share this with colleagues, bosses, friends and family.

Here’s hoping everyone got something out of last week’s issue, and it inspired at least some but hopefully all to check their vessel and workplace fire apparatus and equipment.

To follow on from last week a good starting point is to go back to fire basics and look at the fire triangle which includes Fuel – Heat – Oxygen.

What’s important to remember is if you remove just one of those items you have no fire!

Another point to remember is that a fire can get out of control within seconds and can generate heat in excess of 1,000°C.

This alone should encourage people to take action quickly unless you have some strange underlying desire to suffer serious injury and burns!

Here’s a few of the more common areas where the potential for a fire is quite high.

  1. Engine and/or machinery rooms: leaking fuel or hydraulic/oil lines and bags of rags
  2. The galley or kitchen: oil fires and stoves and other appliances left unattended
  3. Store rooms: paint, grease, oil fires, cardboard/paper fires, etc.
  4. Accommodation areas: mobile phone/tablet/laptop chargers and overloaded power boards

Leaking fuel or hydraulic lines are often the cause of fires in engine and machinery rooms. Fuel or oil leaking onto hot engine components, especially exhausts or turbo chargers is a fire about to happen.

Bags of damp or used rags left in engine or machinery rooms are also a recipe for fire.

The picture below shows a leaking fuel line and a bag of rags, both major causes of fires!.

The answer to these and most other potential fire hazards is regular inspections of fuel and hydraulic/oil lines and ensuring the safe storage and disposal of rags.

Oil fires on stoves are another common cause of fires as is leaving cooking appliances unattended which usually happens when someone calls the cook to help them with something.

Knowing how to use a fire blanket is vital but during training session we deliver unfortunately very few people actually know how to use them to extinguish and mitigate reignition.

Here’s what everyone should know about using fire blankets.

  1. Pull the tabs to remove it from the packet and open the fire blanket
  2. Take hold of the tabs and flick the top over your hands
  3. Approach the fire slowly with the blanket just below your eyes
  4. Place it gently over the fire. DO NOT throw it as this will fan the fire
  5. Then the step that just about everyone misses – turn off the power or gas supply!
  6. Leave it in place for at least 20 – 30 minutes or longer
  7. Remove it using the tabs to slowly slide it back towards you

Note that when you’ve used a fire blanket it cannot be re-used and must be replaced.

We have a major hate in the use of power boards and charging phones, tablets and laptops in accommodation areas.

These are known causes of fires not only onboard vessels but in offices and homes as well.

The picture below shows a power board that’s overheated and was the start of a fire!

People in their bunks get up and inadvertently throw bedding over the item which causes an extra build-up of heat and there’s your fire waiting to happen.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

As per last week’s recommendation and for your safety and the safety of all others and vessel or premises ensure you have a procedure in place and that you undertake regular drills.

Secondly, monitor the use of extension leads and power boards to ensure they are not overload.

And remember, if you take away one side of the triangle (fuel, heat or oxygen) you extinguish the fire!


It’s a standing rule on the boats we manage, and in our homes that there is no charging of mobile phones, etc. in cabins or bedrooms and it’s a tip for you to follow!

This is a very important question because over the last 12 months we’ve undertaken several Safety Audits both on vessels and in workplaces ashore and conducted multiple onboard training sessions where fire safety was compromised.

How does your fire safety stack up?

Here’s a short list of things we’ve discovered during our Safety Audits and training sessions:

  • Empty fire extinguishers
  • Fire extinguishers not serviced
  • In one case the engine room fire suppression system bottle was empty
  • Air shut offs not functioning. Often these had been painted over during refit
  • Air shut offs with damaged dampeners
  • In another case an air shut off that had a bolt from a fitting located in the vent pipe which prevented the dampener from closing
  • Inoperable fuel shut offs
  • In one case a fuel shut off that had to be accessed through a hole in the deck with a fitting that could not be removed
  • Fire hydrants and/or hoses in disrepair
  • A lack of knowledge on how to deal with a fire, even a minor one!

All of the above put the vessels at risk in the event of a fire onboard, especially in the engine room.

While the above list is based on vessels, many of the items are also relevant to workplaces such as factories, offices, etc.

Fire extinguishers that have been discharged or otherwise become inoperable should never be onboard or in the workplace, they must be serviced when due.

Check the gauge on a regular basis and if it is in the RECHARGE section, get it recharged immediately!

Do you have Dry Chemical extinguishers on your vessel in your workplace?

If yes, ensure you know what class they are as there are two classes for Dry Chemical extinguishers, these are:

ABE Type :

  • Class A Fires – paper, cardboard, wood, fabrics, people etc.
  • Class B Fires – flammable liquid fires, petrol, diesel, oil etc
  • Class E Fires – electrical fires, computers, photocopiers, switchboards etc

 BE Type:

  • Class B Fires – flammable liquid fires, petrol, diesel, oil etc
  • Class E Fires – electrical fires, computers, photocopiers, switchboards etc

Air shut offs that do not fully operate put your vessel at risk. You need to check them for full operation regularly, especially after a refit where painting has been undertaken.

The picture below was supplied by AMSA as an example of a damaged air dampener.

Fuel Shut offs: The location and operation of your fuel shut offs is also critical for your safety in the event of an engine room fire. These should also be checked regularly for effective operation.

The picture below is an example of a cable operated fuel shut off.

Fire hydrants and fire hoses are fitted on many vessels, but we’ve found ‘lay flats” hoses that were in disrepair, one that even feel apart when pulled out!

Shorlink’s Recommendation

For your safety and the safety of your crew, workers and/or clients and vessel or premises ensure you have a procedure in place and that you undertake regular drills.

Secondly, make sure all crew and workers can identify the classes of extinguishers and their specific uses.

Also, it’s critical to your safety that you undertake regular checks of ALL your fire fighting apparatus and equipment to ensure it works when required.


Best tip for Dry Chemical extinguishers is to turn them upside down and give them a little shake on a regular basis.

The reason for this is that the powder compacts on the bottom of the extinguisher and may not work efficiently or work at all.

While it’s not a question that most people have considered or even thought about it’s one that vessel owners and operators should. It’s not just vessel Master’s it should be considered for business managers as well.

But staying with the Master scenario what would your crew do if something happened to the Master?

Here’s a couple of examples to get you thinking…

  1. One of 2 deckhands onboard a trawler walked into the wheelhouse and found the Master lying unconscious on the wheelhouse deck.

What should he do?

What happened to the Master: Do you know?

  1. A charter vessel was on a night time delivery voyage when the Mate walked into the wheelhouse to relive the Master who was not there.

Where is the Master?

  1. Onboard a trawler that was working the Mate walked into the wheelhouse to let the Master know it was time to winch up but there was no Master.

What happened to the Master?

Do these examples sound strange, well it’s sad to say but all three are real life situations that actually occurred!

In scenario 1 the Master had suffered a heart attack (most likely due to the crew!) and while being attended to by the deckhands the vessel ran aground.

The Master in scenario 2 went into the engine room without letting anyone know (which was against the SMS procedures) and got his hand caught in machinery causing serious injuries.

Shorlink hand picture

In the last example the Master simply fell overboard from the wheelhouse deck while checking the wires. Fortunately, he was recovered a short time later.

Shorlink SOS picture

What do these 3 examples tell you?

Very simply Masters are not as bullet proof as many think they are and therefore every SMS should have a procedure for dealing with an Incapacitated Master.

Does your SMS have an Incapacitated Master procedure?

It’s a procedure we put in all the SMS manuals we develop and one that’s actually saved lives!

Shorlink’s Recommendation

We strongly recommend that you have a procedure to deal with a Master that’s become incapacitated in any way. You need to take into account potential causes and how to deal with them in the event the Master becomes incapacitated for any reason.

If you’re the Master then you want to be saved and if you’re the owner and the Master becomes incapacitated or is lost then you can become legally responsible if there is no procedure for dealing with an incapacitated or lost Master.


Our tip is to ensure you include the one thing we DO NOT seen in Incapacitated Master procedures we’ve reviewed and that is “what’s the boat doing and where is it”.

Those two things are what can save you from having a single emergency to encountering multiple emergencies situations at once.

It’s likely you’ve heard the term situational awareness but…do you know what it means?

Situational awareness can be defined simply as “knowing what is going on around us” or more technically as “the perception of the elements in the environment within a volume of time and space, the comprehension of their meaning and the projection of their status in the near future”.

Situational Awareness: Do you have it?

Situational awareness is a major component of watchkeeping, and a lack of situational awareness is a major contributor to marine incidents!

Marine incidents that include minor to critical injury and loss of life, minor damage to or loss of your vessel, minor to major damage to infrastructure and/or minor to major environmental damage.

Take note that situational awareness is not just for the Master or watchkeepers it’s something all crew members MUST have to ensure the safety of the vessel and all persons onboard.

In maritime terms the following are what all crew members need to know to have good situational awareness:

  • Being aware of your environment, including:
    • other boats in the area
    • navigational hazards
    • communications between vessel traffic services and other boats
    • weather
    • sea state
    • depth of water
    • tide and current
  • Knowing your boat’s configuration, equipment and systems including auto pilot, radar, GPS, AIS, compass, propulsion and their engaged modes.
  • Being aware of the status of your boat’s systems.
  • Know the geographical position of the boat within the operational location.
  • Managing time for things like fuel status
  • Allowing time for unplanned events or emergencies.

Put simply, situational awareness means having an accurate understanding of what is happening around you and what is likely to happen. Around you doesn’t mean what’s happening in front of you, it means a full 360 degrees around you!

Situational Awareness: Do you have it?

At all times you must:

  1. Perceive what is happening.
  2. Understand what is happening.
  3. Use this to think ahead.

While you’re working it can be easy to be distracted and lose your situational awareness. No matter if you’re the Master, Engineer, watchkeeper or deckhand you must always be aware of potential distractions and how they impact on your situational awareness.

Failing to maintain situational awareness puts you, your crew and vessel in danger, a danger that can end up in loss of life and//or vessel!

Situational Awareness: Do you have it?

Very few people have situational awareness naturally, it’s something you learn and develop over time but, you have to work on it.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Our recommendation is to either email this newsletter to all your crew or print it out and provide a copy to your crew members. In either case have them work on improving their situational awareness.

We can guarantee that when all crew members have good situational awareness the potential for incidents decreases significantly!


Something we do when we’re onboard a vessel doing training or when it’s working and it’s a good thing for you to do as well and that is ask different crew members if they know what’s going on around them, questions such as:

  • Which way are we heading; e.g., compass bearing, into the wind, with the sea, etc.
  • What are other crew members doing; e.g., are they all on deck working, are they in their bunks, etc.
  • Are there lines left on the deck

Try asking questions like these to assess the level of situational awareness of individual crew members. If their level of awareness help them to improve it for everyone’s safety!

Fires on board any vessel can be the most dangerous types of incidents. A fire can trap those on board in cabins and confined spaces.

Burns: Do you know how to treat them?

Evacuating a burning vessel can leave crew stranded in the middle of the ocean. Fires on vessels can and too often are deadly. But for those who survive a fire there may be serious injuries, from smoke inhalation but also from burns.

Today, we are going to look at burns specifically!

A fire isn’t the only way someone may be burned on a vessel, although it is the most common. Here are some other ways:

  • Explosions
  • Electrical accidents
  • Hot surfaces (Thermal)
  • Welding tools
  • Friction
  • Cold
  • Radiation
  • Chemical

While prevention is key, sometimes accidents just happen. So, it’s important to be prepared and to know what to do.

Understanding burns

The first step is to assess the dimension of the burn to determine what approach should be taken. All burns are assessed according to the AREA and DEPTH involved.

The greater the area of tissue burn, the greater the chance of the patient to suffer shock due to loss of tissue fluid (plasma) and develop infection later on.

As a general rule, if the burned area is bigger than 8 cm in diameter or affects the face, eyes, genitalia or goes around a joint it is considered a major burn.

The DEPTH of a burn is assessed as being SUPERFICIAL (involving the outer layers of the skin) or DEEP (all areas of the skin are affected).

So, based on the area and depth of a burn we can classify it in Major or Minor Burns:

Major Burns (3rd and 4th degree burns)

These are deep, involving all layers of the skin. They are larger than a 20 cent coin in diameter or involve hands, feet, face, genitalia or a major joint. The skin may appear charred or have brown, black or white patches.

They are a medical emergency and require immediate medical assistance, so you need to dial 000 and ask for Ambulance immediately.

Burns: Do you know how to treat them?

If the accidents involves a person’s clothing has caught on fire, direct them to stop, drop and roll as this is the best way to extinguish fire, before you can help them.

Until the medical help arrives, here are the steps you can take to assist the burned person:

  1. Remove the person from further damage. In the case of electric shock, ALWAYS switch off the power source first
  2. Make sure the person in breathing
  3. If possible, remove constricting rings, belts, etc as swelling will occur quickly
  4. Cover the burn with gauze or non-adhesive dressing
  5. Elevate the burned area if possible
  6. Monitor the person for signs of shock (like fainting or dizziness, pale skin, weak pulse, shallow breathing, etc)

Minor Burns (1st and 2nd degree burns)

These affect the outer layers of the skin in a small area. The skin may be red and painful, and there can be mild swelling.

Although they are not as serious as higher-degree burns, they can hurt quite a bit and can leave a scar if not properly treated. To treat a minor or first-degree burns at home, follow these steps:

  1. Remove tight items, jewellery or clothes from the burned area, unless they are stuck to the burn
  2. Place the burn under cool running water for 20 minutes. This is the Golden First Aid Tip for Minor Burns.
  3. Do not use ice
  4. Do not break blisters
  5. Do not apply ointment, creams or oil to the burned area as they may cause infections
  6. Apply a proper burn aid product like an hydrogel. Burnaid 25g tube of hydrogel (firstaidkitsaustralia.com.au)
  7. Cover the burn loosely with a bandage. Bandaging keeps air off the area, reduces pain and protects blistered skin.

Part of being prepared for an emergency is to have the right items to address it. Not only do you need to ensure you have a First Aid Kit that is suitable for your vessel, ensuring your crew and you know how to administer and deal with First Aid should be a priority.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office to discuss.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Primary recommendation is to check your First Aid Kit today. Make sure your medical supplies are in accordance with the appropriate scale relative to your operations.

Secondly ensure all items are in date by checking the expiry dates.


Do you know that you are required to have a Medical Log onboard?

Shorlink has a Medical Stores Log and has recently developed a new Medical Log which records dispensing of all medical supplies to enable tracking.

It also ensures medical supplies are always kept up to date.  Click Here to order today with free postage. Note our new Medical Log will be available shortly.

Bunkering (refuelling) operations present a high-risk factor especially when refuelling petrol powered vessels. An explosion after refuelling an outboard powered charter vessel resulted in the Master suffering serious burns.


While petrol is highlighted diesel does not have the same flash point, but it is still a flammable liquid with the potential to cause serious injuries and damage to vessels.

Let’s look at some of the risk factors for petrol fuelled vessels.

Petrol vapours are denser than air so any vapours can accumulate in your bilge or other areas which are not properly vented. When petrol vapours mix with air the mixture becomes explosive.

Exposure of accumulated petrol vapours to an ignition source has the potential to cause an explosion and/or fire. The result is potentially catastrophic with serious injury to loss of life, damage to or loss of vessel, damage to infrastructure and environmental damage.

Potential ignition sources include:

  • Smoking, naked flames or pilot lights
  • Communication equipment, e.g., mobile phones
  • Portable electrical equipment
  • Fixed electrical systems
  • Hot work which includes welding, cutting, grinding, etc.
  • Hot surfaces, e.g., exhaust pipes, flues and ducting
  • Sparks generated by mechanical means, e.g., hammers, etc.
  • Static electricity 

To reduce the risk of explosion:

  • Ensure the fuel system complies with the applicable standards
  • Undertake regular inspections of the fuel system
  • Prevent the build-up of vapours by ventilating any area where they could occur
  • Removing or isolating all ignition sources
  • Ensure all electric equipment maintained

A guide to refuelling

In Australia all bunkering/refuelling operations must be carried out in accordance with AS1940:2017.

Below is a basic guide to preparing for refuelling your vessel.

  • Shut down the main engine/s
  • Ensure firefighting equipment is at hand
  • Ensure spill kit is available
  • Ensure adequate lighting is available
  • Block scuppers/freeing ports
  • Close hatches and doors (especially on petrol powered vessels)
  • Ensure all hot works have ceased on the vessel, adjacent vessels and within 20mtrs
  • Ensure all electric appliances are off within 20mtrs
  • Turn off mobile phones
  • Ensure no smoking withing 10mtrs 
  • Estimate the amount of fuel required
  • Ensure the fuel about to be delivered is diesel or unleaded as required
  • Check hose for leaks or damage
  • Where camlocks are not used ensure contact is maintained between the nozzle and the filler pipe; and
  • At all times the nozzle must be hand operated. 

The above is a list of precautionary steps to ensure safe refuelling practices but there are other items that must be considered including where the refuelling is being undertaken, is it at a:

  • Shore-based facility (marina, etc.)
  • Road fuel tanker
  • Fuel barge or mother ship
  • Roadside fuel service station
  • Or are you using Jerri Cans

The results of not following procedures

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Number one recommendation is to ensure you undertake safe refuelling practices at all times in accordance with AS1940:2017.

No matter where you refuel you must comply with the supplier’s procedure for dispensing fuel no matter if it’s a marina, other shore-based facility, road tanker, fuel barge or mothership!


Best tip is to recognise the refuelling procedure is a critical component of every vessels SMS so take the time to get it right. If you’re having problems with putting a refuelling procedure together don’t hesitate to contact us for advice or help to develop your procedure.

This issue is dedicated to surviving in-water without a life raft.

While all commercially certified crew members have been through the Shipboard Safety Skillset, previously Elements of Shipboard Safety (ESS) course recreational operators have not.


Having to survive in the water after your vessels sinks or through a person overboard situation can be a terrifying ordeal and one that I hope you or your crew don’t have to go through!

The question is…

…if you found yourself in that situation could you survive?

The sad fact is that most people don’t really consider it until it’s too late. On commercial vessels it’s a requirement to undertake drills to ensure all crew have the knowledge and skills to deal with emergency situations.

But do you take into account how to survive if you found yourself in the water with other people around you or what if your alone?

Over the last few months, we’ve been delivering onboard safety training to commercial crews around Australia, and what stood out was a serious lack of knowledge and/or complacency about emergency situations.

The all too common attitude of “it won’t happen to me” was highlighted yet again.

While it’s a situation that we all hope does not happen, the simple fact is that every time you put to sea there is a possibility you may find yourself in the water waiting to be rescued.

Taking that into consideration let’s look at some in-water survival techniques.

Here’s a few points to consider first…

  1. Does anyone know you’re in the water?
  2. Are you alone or are there others?
  3. Are you injured or is anyone with you injured?
  4. Do you have a lifejacket on?
  5. Is there an inflatable life raft?
  6. Where are you?
  7. What are you wearing?
  8. What are the conditions?

These are some of the major factors influencing if you survive. If nobody knows you’re in the water then that’s a major problem to start with.

Injuries represent another issue depending on the nature of the injury while not having a lifejacket on puts you in a serious survival situation.

Where you are, what you’re wearing, and the prevailing conditions all represent major problems in surviving!

If you’re 50nm offshore and find yourself in the water with no lifejacket or anything else to support you in the water and nobody knows then you’re in a heap of trouble. Survival in this situation is not impossible but to be honest chances diminish by the hour.

Hypothermia is a major issue no matter where you are. During our training sessions too many crew members thought that hypothermia didn’t happen in the tropics. Simple fact is that is does!

First things first

The very first thing you need to do is ensure everybody is accounted for then check for injuries. Once you’ve dealt with the injuries the next step is critical to everyone’s survival because it’s one of the biggest dangers you’ll face.

Panic is the one thing that’s hard to control because suddenly finding yourself in the water miles from anywhere and floating in the water is a traumatic experience.

It’s critical for all that you get everyone calmed down, easy to say: not so easy to do but it’s a major step to surviving.

On most commercial vessels EPIRBs are now “Float Free” but for those that are not fitted with float free EPIRBS and for recreational vessels ensure you activate it as soon as possible.

Survival Strategies


If there’s more than one person then you use the HUDDLE technique. This is where you all huddle together in a group to reduce the heat loss of all persons. 

Wearing a lifejacket of PFD allows you to draw your knees to your chest and your arms to your sides. Huddling with other people in the water lessens the loss of body heat and is good for morale.

By huddling together, you make it easier for rescuers to see you in the water. A group huddling together with lifejackets on is much easier to spot than you alone.



If you’re alone in the water you need to use the HELP which stands for Heat Escape Lessing Posture to minimise the amount of heat loss from your body.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

Here’s a couple of recommendations that can enhance your chances of survival!

  • Ensure all life jackets are in good condition; and 
  • They are stowed in an easy to access location; and
  • Ensure everyone onboard knows how to don their life jacket correctly

Additionally, it is good to ensure you conduct regular training that includes in-water survival.


If you’re working in rough weather or undertaking a solo voyage then we strongly recommend wearing a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) that’s GPS activated. This greatly increase the potential for a quick rescue.