Tag Archive for: Danger

As you have probably guessed I often get asked a lot of questions about safety onboard and one that’s come up recently is how do waves impact on safety.

Obviously, they can and do have a major impact on vessel operations and safety but before we get into that it’s good to have some background.

Waves transmit energy passing through the water causing it to move in a circular motion. However, water does not actually travel in waves. Waves transmit energy, not water, across the ocean and if not obstructed by anything they have the potential to travel across an entire ocean basin.

Waves are most commonly caused by wind. Wind-driven waves or surface waves are created by friction between wind and surface water. As wind blows across the surface of the ocean or a lake, the continual disturbance creates a wave crest. These types of waves are found globally across the open ocean and along the coast.

More potentially hazardous waves can be caused by severe weather, like a cyclone. The strong winds and pressure from this type of severe storm causes storm surge, a series of long waves that are created far from shore in deeper water and intensify as they move closer to land.

Other hazardous waves can be caused by underwater disturbances that displace large amounts of water quickly such as earthquakes, landslides, or volcanic eruptions. These very long waves are called tsunamis.

Storm surge and tsunamis are not the types of waves you imagine crashing down on the shore. These waves roll upon the shore like a massive sea level rise and can reach far distances inland.

 

The gravitational pull of the sun and moon on the earth also causes waves. These waves are tides or, in other words, tidal waves. It is a common misconception that a tidal wave is also a tsunami. The cause of tsunamis is not related to tide information at all but can occur in any tidal state.

Wave dangers

Anyone who has been to sea, especially in rough weather should understand the potential dangers associated with waves and wave action.

Waves dramatically impact on the way a vessel handles, its stability and in many cases its operations. Wave motion can cause free surface affect in fuel and water tanks which can cause major stability issues.

When crossing coastal bars waves can cause major issues including the loss of vessel, serious injury and loss of life!

A wave breaking on the deck where the water is unable to drain from the deck due to the volume of water or inadequate scuppers puts the vessel into a potential capsize situation.

Wave heights vary in height and as a guide I’ve included the following chart provided by the Bureau of Meteorology. This provides some really good information that you should take into account.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

Don’t do what so many people do and that is take the ocean for granted, my number one recommendation is to treat it with respect at all times!

Number 2 is to ensure your vessel is prepared for unexpected waves at all times by keeping sea doors and hatches closed, cargo, product and other items are appropriately secured, and fuel and water tanks pressed to ensure appropriate stability when at sea.


Tip

While having the vessel prepared is good but…how are your crew. Are they prepared?

My tip is to ensure all crew are prepared for the voyage including knowing how to deal with waves and wave action including the use of safety equipment!

Cyclones are a part of life for people in Northern Australia so it’s crucial that everyone on both sea and land know what to do when a cyclone approaches and that means having contingency plans or procedures in place!

The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast an average to above average number of cyclones this season which means every operator should be prepared. On average there are 9 – 11 tropical cyclones each season in the Australian region.

Tropical Lows that do not intensify into cyclones or lows that are the  remnants of older cyclones, can still produce damaging winds, widespread rainfall, and dangerous flooding. These impacts can extend beyond the tropics into southern areas of the country.

Typically, in the Northern region about three-quarters of the tropical cyclones impact coastal regions which greatly impacts on maritime operations.

How to be prepared!

If you operate in a cyclone area then you should have a procedure in place that details what to do and how to keep you and your vessel safe.

Even if you don’t operate in a cyclone region you should have procedures to deal with extreme weather events. Being caught out at sea in extreme weather and not being prepared is a recipe for disaster!

Your Safety Management System should have a detailed procedure that outlines what to do at specific times including:

  • Before the cyclone. This is when a cyclone has been identified in the region but may or may not come your way, but you need to be on full alert
  • Cyclone watch is when there is a cyclone in the region and there is a high potential for it to come towards your position
  • Cyclone alert which is when the cyclone is predicted to pass very close within the next 8 hours

There should be specific actions provided in your cyclone procedure for each of the above times and if not you need to get them implemented now. The same goes for shore-based businesses, don’t wait until a cyclone is on you to start thinking about what you should do.

Where possible you should be avoiding cyclones at all costs and if shelter is available heading there provided it offers better protection than remaining at sea. There are times when remaining at sea are a better option, but this is up to the Master to determine.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

If you don’t have a procedure in place for cyclones I highly recommend you get one prepared now, don’t wait until it’s too late! We recommend you use the 3 times identified herein, before the cyclone, cyclone watch and cyclone alert.

We also strongly recommend that you don’t just use someone else’s procedure as it may not be appropriate to your operations. For example, a cyclone procedure for a trawler is going to be different to a charter vessel although many of the tasks are similar

You need to develop your procedure to take into account your specific operations


Tip

If you operate in a specific area where there are cyclone moorings available make sure you list them in your procedure when developing it.

While it seems logical people often forget to maintain contact with other vessels in the area and land bases during a cyclone.

These 2 simple tips can and have saved many people’s lives and limited the damage to vessels!

Recently a safety alert was issued highlighting the dangers of the incorrect use of soft slings when lifting loads.

The alert was issued following a number of incidents involving soft sling failures in workplaces, resulting in life-threatening injuries and serious near misses.

Incorrect use of soft slings (also known as synthetic fibre slings) can result in the sudden failure of a sling, even when the load being lifted is below the working load limit of the sling.

While soft slings are well suited to certain applications, the alert said they also have a number of limitations.

One of the most common causes of failure when using soft slings is lifting a load that has an edge with a small radius (sharp edge), rather than a rounded edge. An edge with a small radius can easily cut through a soft sling that is under load.

What may appear to be a blunt edge on a load may still be sharp enough to cut a soft sling when pressure is applied. The edge of a load only has to be relatively sharp when compared to the thickness of the soft sling in order for the sling to be cut.

Soft slings may also easily be cut by coming into contact with an obstruction while under load.

Soft slings are also more susceptible to damage than other sling types, which may cause them to fail below their working load limit. Soft slings can be damaged by poor storage and handling practices, dirt and grit in the synthetic fibres, prolonged exposure to UV light (sunlight) and exposure to chemicals, grease and oil or excessive heat.

The alert recommended a number of ways to control risks, and before lifting a load, a risk assessment should be conducted to decide the type of sling that is most suitable to lift the load safely.

Sling selection needs to take into consideration:

  • the nature of the load, including the potential for slings to be damaged by the load’s edges or surface
  • whether the load is to be lifted in a confined area and the potential for external obstructions to cause damage to the slings
  • the environment the slings are to be used in (e.g., heat, chemicals, dirt/dust)
  • the working load limit of the slings

Where a soft sling may come into contact with a relatively sharp edge of a load, appropriate cut-resistant material (for example a protective sleeve or pad) between the sling and the edges of the load should be used.

Soft slings should also be inspected prior to each use, and also undergo a thorough inspection at least every three months. Where slings are exposed to harsh operating or storage conditions, a more frequent inspection regime should be conducted. Inspections should be conducted by a competent person who is trained in the inspection of soft slings.

Soft slings should be stored in a clean and dry location away from direct sunlight and exposure to chemicals. They should be stored off the ground on a rack or stand.

Care should be taken not to drag them along the ground which can cause abrasive damage to the synthetic fibres.

When cleaning soft slings, the alert said to only use water or mild detergent and consult the manufacturer’s instructions.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

Regular inspections are a must with soft slings, and they should be inspected prior to each use and undergo a thorough inspection at least every 3 months.

Where slings are exposed to harsh operating or storage conditions such as on commercial fishing operations a more frequent inspection regime should be conducted. Inspections should be conducted by a competent person who is trained in the inspection of soft slings.

 


Tip

Soft slings should be stored in a clean and dry location away from direct sunlight and exposure to chemicals. They should be stored off the ground on a rack or stand.

Care should be taken not to drag them along the ground which can cause abrasive damage to the synthetic fibres.

When cleaning soft slings, only use water or mild detergent and consult the manufacturer’s instructions. Never use harsh chemicals to clean a soft sling as this can cause damage to the synthetic fibres.