Dealing with emergency situations. Would you know what to do?

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While most of us hope we never have to deal with an emergency situation at sea or in our shore-based business, the fact is we can find ourselves in an emergency situation which requires swift action at any moment.

Even though we don’t think about it, the simple fact is we face the potential of a fire onboard our vessel or in our office or factory every day. It’s not only fires there are so many other emergency situations that can occur both at sea and ashore.

Potential emergencies at sea

A short list of emergencies that can occur at sea which includes but is not limited to:

  • Fire
  • Person overboard
  • Injuries both minor, serious and critical
  • Collision
  • Grounding
  • Flooding (taking on water)
  • Adverse weather

Potential emergencies onshore

A short list of emergencies that can occur onshore which includes but is not limited to:

  • Fire
  • Injuries both minor, serious and critical
  • Forklift accidents
  • Vehicle accidents/collisions
  • Collisions between vehicles and people
  • Flooding by natural causes or plumbing failures
  • Bomb/terrorist threats
  • Working at heights
  • Working in confined spaces

Both of these lists are to highlight potentially what can happen at sea and in shore-based facilities and start you thinking about how you would deal with them.

For vessels it starts with having a Safety Management System (SMS) that complies with either Marine Order 504 or the ISM Code. The SMS must have documented procedures for dealing with onboard emergencies.

Shore-based facilities the starting point is having an Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS) that preferably complies with ISO 45001. This manual must have documented procedures for dealing with workplace emergencies.

The emergency procedures for both of these should include procedures for all potential emergencies identified which is the first step to being “emergency prepared”.

The second step is to ensure all vessel crew and shore-based workers are inducted into each procedure relevant to their allocated duties.

Following on from that all crew and workers must be trained in emergency procedures that apply to them. Training should include initial and ongoing training to ensure they can deal with emergency situations in a safe and efficient manner.

Note that all crew &/or workers are not necessarily responsible for all emergency procedures as they may not be involved in some tasks or areas where the potential dangers exist.

From a vessel or business owners’ perspective they must ensure all of the above are in place and undertaken to ensure your vessel or business has the best chance of surviving emergency situations.

While we understand that all of this is a lot of work how much work do you think it takes to deal with the loss of a vessel or business facility or worse still the serious injury or death of crew members or workers?

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Number one recommendation is to ensure you have a compliant SMS for commercial vessels &/or a OHSMS for business owners.

Actually, this is not just a recommendation it’s law!


The best tip we can give you is once you have your SMS or OHSMS in place is to ensure you induct and train all crew members &/or shore-based workers in emergency procedures.

Failure to do this puts you, your vessel or business and the lives of those who work for you in serious danger!

Is it worth the risk?

You can either conduct these inductions/trainings yourself, or Shorlink can provide these for peace of mind.  Click Here for more information.