Tag Archive for: Health

Fatigue is one of those sneaky things that will creep up on you and often without you realising it until something happens. It’s been a major problem over the years in maritime industries but especially in the commercial fishing sector.

Crew members on charter vessels, ferries, water taxis and other passenger/vehicle transport vessels that operate in Australia are usually short voyage operations.


In addition, they usually operate between fixed times and often with crew changes scheduled in during their operating timetables. Crews on construction vessels are usually controlled by legislation in relation to their operating times.


This makes fatigue relatively easy to manage compared to some other sectors, but it can still be a major issue. Crew members and shore-based workers who fail to get adequate rest between working hours are in risk of suffering from fatigue.


Fishing operations such as net fishing or prawn trawling in bay and/or estuary waters are often either day or night operations allowing sufficient rest periods between voyages.


Others such as long liners, line fishing vessels and offshore trawlers operate offshore and may undertake round the clock operations. This is where fatigue management is critical to ensure the safety of all persons onboard.


In shore-based workplaces workers are subject to fatigue as well based on the hours they work, number of shifts and many other factors that often don’t get taken into account.

Things to consider

Your operations will determine how you manage fatigue. Here are a few pointers on what to consider…

  • Do you operate on scheduled times, around the clock or somewhere in-between
  • Crew/worker rosters (where applicable)
  • When developing rosters time taken for each crew member or worker to travel to and from work
  • Time in-between shifts (hours for rest)
  • How many days in a row (e.g., 3 days on 2 days off)
  • What berthing/bedding facilities are onboard (for extended voyages) or in the workplace (for on-site workers; e.g., FIFO)
  • For vessels operating extended hours how rest periods are managed
  • Who manages fatigue levels onboard or in the workplace

This is a starting point of things to consider before jumping into developing your fatigue management programme!

What to identify when assessing fatigue

To properly assess fatigue, you need to take into account two key elements which are:

  1. Standard working hours which includes
  • Total hours worked per day
  • Days worked per week
  • Total hours worked per week
  • Hours between shifts
  • Night shifts
  • Breaks per shift
  1. Additional hours which takes into account:
  • Overtime
  • Extended hours
  • Times you get called back to work
  • Secondary employment

The combination of the above will identify a crew member or workers risk of fatigue and then allow a process to be put in place, where required to minimise the risk.

Calculating fatigue exposure

The risk of fatigue is calculated by undertaking a risk assessment that is designed to identify all the areas that contribute to fatigue.

In general terms risk of fatigue is broken down as follows:

Low Risk is deemed that a person works less than 50 hours per week

Medium Risk is where a person works between 50 – 70 hours per week

High Risk is where a person works more than 70 hours per week

Developing a fatigue management procedure

This procedure can be quite tricky to ensure it’s on target and I always recommend doing a risk assessment on fatigue for your operations before you start.

When developing a fatigue management procedure here’s the key points to take into account…

  • Identify who monitors fatigue onboard or in the workplace
  • Identify who manages breaks onboard or in the workplace
  • For vessels that have crew changes during operations specify start and finish times; or
  • Workplaces that have worker rotation specify start and finish times
  • For vessels or workers operating extended hours when rest periods are to be taken; and
  • a roster for breaks (times when individual crew members are off duty)

The above points provide the basis for developing your fatigue management procedure but remember it is a tricky one to get right.

Remember that fatigue often goes unnoticed until something happens and that could be anything from a minor injury to loss of life or damage to or loss of a vessel or workplace.

So…please take fatigue seriously because it can be and is a killer!

Shorlink’s Recommendation

We strongly recommend that you take fatigue seriously and undertake a detailed risk assessment in relation to fatigue.

You can do a group risk assessment where you take into account all crew members or workers who are operating on the same work hours.

Where there are differences in specific crew members or workers hours you need to do a risk assessment on that person or persons.


When undertaking risk assessments for fatigue our tip is to ensure you cover all aspects of the group or individual crew member or workers hours including total hours worked per week, breaks and the one that most people don’t take into account travel time to and from work.

To get an honest appraisal of a person’s fatigue potential you need to be honest about all their hours both work and rest periods.

If in doubt or you need assistance with fatigue risk assessments don’t hesitate to contact our office because we’re here to help!

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.



While most of us have seen Safety Data Sheets (SDS), previously known as a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) how many actually know and understand them?

Unfortunately, a Person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) which includes vessel owners simply have them because they have too!

SDS are a valuable tool in ensuring workers (including crew members) health and safety by providing critical information about hazardous substances. A SDS includes information on:

  • The chemical’s identity and ingredients
  • Health and physical hazards
  • Safe handling and storage procedures
  • Emergency procedures
  • Disposal considerations

A SDS is a valuable tool for assessing and managing the risks associated with the use of hazardous chemicals in workplaces.’

WHS Regulation section 330 specifies that a manufacturer or importer to prepare and provide safety data sheets.

A chemical that is not hazardous does not require a SDS however if ones available it’s a good idea to have it on hand for general safety reasons.

Note that all SDS are to be prepared in accordance with the Code of Practice for the Preparation of safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals.

A SDS must:

  • be in English
  • contain units of measurement expressed in Australian legal units of measurements
  • state the date it was last reviewed or if it has not been reviewed the date it was prepared
  • state the name , Australian address and business telephone number of the manufacturer or importer
  • state an Australian business telephone number from which information about the chemical can be obtained in an emergency

A SDS for a hazardous chemical must state the following information about the chemical:

  • Section 1 – Identification: Product identifier and chemical entity
  • Section 2 – Hazard(s) identification
  • Section 3 – Composition and information on ingredients
  • Section 4 – First aid measures
  • Section 5 – Firefighting measures
  • Section 6 – Accidental release measures
  • Section 7 – Handling and storage including how the chemical may be safely stored
  • Section 8 – Exposure controls and personal protection
  • Section 9 – Physical and chemical properties
  • Section 10 – Stability and reactivity
  • Section 11 – Toxicological information
  • Section 12 – Ecological information
  • Section 13 – Disposal considerations
  • Section 14 – Transport information
  • Section 15 – Regulatory information
  • Section 16 – Any other relevant information

As you can see there is a lot of information in a SDS, information that is vital to the business/vessel owner/operator, end user and emergency services in the event of an incident.

While all the above sections are important the key sections relevant to the user are:

  • Section 2 – Hazard(s) identification
  • Section 4 – First aid measures
  • Section 5 – Firefighting measures
  • Section 6 – Accidental release measures
  • Section 7 – Handling and storage including how the chemical may be safely stored
  • Section 8 – Exposure controls and personal protection
  • Section 13 – Disposal considerations
  • Section 16 – Any other relevant information

There is a twist to the requirement for SDS that if you purchase a household use product from a general retailer in domestic use sizes then a SDS is not required. Even though it’s not required it’s still a good idea to have one if you purchase any quantities of household use products.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

We strongly recommend you comply with three import things:

  1. You have SDS for all chemical and/or hazards materials you store or use;
  2. All SDS are current; and
  3. Workers, including crew members who use or handle the product have easy access to all SDS.


While having SDS stored on electronic devices such as computers, tablets, etc. saves a lot of paper in the event that power is lost due to a fire or other reason you cannot access your SDS. Our best tip is to ensure you have hard copies available.

While most of us have chemicals either onboard or ashore do we handle and store them correctly?

Failure to handle and store chemicals of any sort can lead to injuries, health problems and damage to the vessel, workplace and the environment.

Every year in Australia over 2,000 workers die as a result of occupational exposure to hazardous substances. Only 30 – 40 of these are due to poisoning, many of the other deaths result from long latency, e.g., cancer.

Vessel and workplace damage can be repaired but environmental damage comes with penalties that can cause major financial disruption and even bankruptcy to owners and operators.

To avoid that you need to ensure you comply with two things, those being:

  1. The Code of Practice for Managing the risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace. Note this means onboard vessels as well.
  2. The handling and storing details in the products Safety Data Sheet (SDS). You do have SDS’s for all your chemicals onboard or onsite, not just the hazardous ones don’t you?

This newsletter provides a brief outline of your requirements for the handling and storing of chemicals. If you need further information please feel free to contact our office.

Firstly, SDS are required for all chemicals stored onboard or onsite and are required to be stored in a location that is accessible to all people onboard or in the workplace. More on SDS next week.

A Hazardous Chemicals Register which contains a list of all hazardous chemicals onboard or at your workplace. This register is a requirement under WHS Regulations and should be accompanied by the current SDS for each of those chemicals.

The handling of chemicals can cause serious injury and/or illness and death in some cases. Ensuring you comply with the handling instructions and PPE requirements listed in the SDS is critical to your health and safety.

Storage of hazardous chemicals including flammable and combustible liquids must be in an approved storage containers and a space designed and constructed in accordance with AS1940.

Special care must be taken when storing hazardous chemicals due to cross contamination with incompatible materials which can result in explosion, fire, toxic fumes/gases or other potentially harmful situations.

When handling hazardous chemicals or material ensure you follow the handling precautions contained in the products SDS at all times.

The storage of non-hazardous chemicals must be in accordance with the storage instructions contained in the products SDS.

As with all chemicals always refer to and follow the handling instructions contained in the products SDS.

PPE is a major issue as many people either don’t know what PPE to use or simply fail to use it for whatever reason. Business and vessel owners and operators are responsible for ensuring the appropriate PPE is readily available to all workers and crew members.

What are hazardous substances?

Hazardous substances are substances that have the potential to harm people’s health in the medium or long term. They can be solids, liquids or gases, and when used in the workplace, they are often in the form of fumes, dusts, mists and vapours.

Examples of hazardous substances include:

  • acute toxins such as cyanide,
  • substances harmful after repeated or prolonged exposure such as mercury and silica,
  • corrosives such as sulphuric acid and caustic soda,
  • irritants such as ammonia,
  • sensitising agents such as isocyanates and
  • carcinogens (cancer causing substances) such as benzene and vinyl chloride.

 How can exposure affect your health?

Hazardous substances can be inhaled, ingested or absorbed through the skin and can cause both immediate and long-term health problems. Health effects depend on the type of hazardous substance and the level of exposure. Some of the potential health effects can include:

  • irritation
  • sensitisation
  • cancer
  • poisoning
  • nausea and vomiting
  • headache
  • chest pains
  • skin rashes, such as dermatitis
  • chemical burns
  • birth defects
  • disorders of the lung, kidney or liver
  • nervous system disorders
  • birth defects

Injuries and symptoms are also dependant on a variety of variables including length, quality and frequency of exposure, history and method of exposure, training received, sensitivity to the substance, general health and height and weight.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

We recommend that as a vessel or business owner or operator you should assess the health risk associated in working with hazardous substances. To do this we recommend you should know:

  • what the substance is.
  • whether the substance is hazardous or not.
  • how the substance is used (and misused) in the work process.
  • if there is a chance of a person being exposed to the hazardous substances, how much they are exposed to, for how long and how often they are exposed.
  • how to use this knowledge to assess the risk to a person’s health.


The best tip we can give is to ensure you have SDS for all chemicals stored onboard your vessel or in your workplace and they are current. Having them is one thing but ensure they are easily accessible to all relevant workers, and they know where they are.

There is a twist to this requirement that if you purchase a household use product from a general retailer in domestic use sizes then a SDS is not required. Even though it’s not required it’s still a good idea to have one if you purchase any quantities household use product.

So, what is a Safety Data Sheet. These provide detailed information about chemicals including:

  • the identity of the chemical product and its ingredients;
  • the hazards of the chemical including health, physical and environmental hazards;
  • physical properties of the chemical, like boiling point, flash point and incompatibilities with other products;
  • workplace exposure standards for airborne contaminants;
  • safe handling and storage procedures
  • what to do in the event of an emergency or spill;
  • first aid information; and
  • transport information

I’m regularly asked, “what’s the difference between an enclosed space and a confined space?”

SO…here’s my response…

What is Enclosed Space?

An enclosed space is defined as any enclosed space that has limited openings for entry or exit, inadequate ventilation and is not designed for regular occupancy.

Because of the lack of ventilation within enclosed spaces, these areas generate and store toxic gases that are either produced from chemicals within the place or from leakage out of surrounding pipelines.

Air movement is almost entirely limited, meaning any flammable atmosphere is unable to be dispersed.

What is Confined Space?

A confined space is any enclosed or partially enclosed space with normal atmospheric pressure not designed or intended to be occupied by a person.

Confined spaces are likely to contain an atmosphere with unsafe oxygen levels and can often contain contaminants such as airborne gases, which can cause injury or death.

Similar to that of enclosed spaces, the possibility of engulfment within confined spaces is very real. Thus, it is crucial that occupants of confined spaces have a strong understanding of precaution, working safety equipment and solid communication processes with colleagues in place.

Examples of confined spaces include pits, underground sewers, tunnels, wells, tanks, etc.

On your vessel

As you can see from the above both have a lot of similar properties therefore require a number of the same safety precautions. Below are the four most prevalent hazards when entering enclosed or confined spaces.

  1. Fuel fumes: Fumes from fuel, in particular gasoline are a major hazard. Highly volatile and a leading cause of marine related explosions and fires, gasoline fumes, which are heavier than air, can easily accumulate in a vessel’s bilge due to improper refuelling or fuel system leaks. There, it’s only a spark away from causing a fire or explosion.
  2. Liquid Propane Gas (LPG): LPG vapor is heavier than air and tends to “flow” like water, seeking the lowest possible point. As a boat’s hull is essentially a watertight envelope, escaping LPG can be trapped in bilges or other low areas, where they can rapidly accumulate to explosive concentrations.
  3. Carbon Monoxide: Carbon monoxide (CO) is a potentially lethal gas produced when burning any carbon-based fuel (e.g., gasoline, wood, propane). CO is colourless, odorless, and tasteless, and mixes evenly with air, meaning it readily travels throughout a boat’s interior spaces. CO enters the body through the lungs and is readily absorbed into the bloodstream, where it displaces oxygen levels in the body and can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
  4. Hydrogen Sulfide: Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is a colourless, toxic gas that is also flammable and highly corrosive. Symptoms of H2S exposure include skin and eye irritation, headaches, loss of balance, nausea, delirium, tremors, and convulsions. Inhalation of high concentrations of H2S can lead to rapid unconsciousness and death. H2S gas occurs naturally during the breakdown of organic matter.

How do I stay safe?

The first question is to ask, “is it an enclosed or confined space?”

Question number two is “what hazards are there when I enter the space?”

Let’s look at a couple of different scenarios for enclosed spaces…

  1. The bilge space of a vessel under 35mtr. My quick check list
  • open the relevant hatch, ensure the hatch is fully open and secured in place
  • ventilate the space
  • check if there are any noticeable fumes
  • advise another person that I’m entering the space
  • have a person stand watch
  1. The engine room on a vessel under 35mtr. This depends on if the engine room has ventilation/ extraction fans. My quick check lists follow…

With fans:

  • open the relevant hatch, ensure the hatch is fully open and secured in place
  • advise another person that I’m entering the space
  • have a person stand watch

Without fans:

  • open the relevant hatch, ensure the hatch is fully open and secured in place
  • ventilate the space
  • check if there are any noticeable fumes
  • advise another person that I’m entering the space
  • have a person stand watch(if necessary)

Confined Spaces

NO person should enter a confined space without the appropriate training. It’s critical that if you have confined spaces on your vessel you have a dedicated procedure for entering them. The key steps for entering any confined space are:

  • Ensure any person entering the confined space has the appropriate training
  • Complete a “Confined Space Entry Permit”
  • Undertake a Risk Assessment (this is part of the Entry Permit)
  • Ventilate the space
  • Test the air quality using certified testing equipment
  • Having lighting equipment available if required
  • Use breathing apparatus if required
  • Ensure clear communications
  • Ensure there are rescue procedures in place

This list is not comprehensive but only a guideline for entering confined spaces

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Number one recommendation is if you have confined spaces on your vessel or in the workplace ensure you have a procedure for entry and the required equipment and documentation available.

Failure to complete a Confined Space Entry Permit, including a Risk Assessment leaves you in a dangerous position in the event of an incident.


If you have confined spaces our tip is to have at least one person trained in confined space entry available. In the event entry is required you have a qualified person available to deal with potential hazardous issues.

The alternative is to have a person or company readily available if the need arises!

Commercial fishing vessels and some other vessels have refrigerated holds which may be set to anywhere from 0°C to 3°C on average. Freezer holds can go from -2°C to -60°C or even lower in some cases.

So how safe is it to work in these holds?


If you follow a series of proven steps it’s very safe and crew have been doing it for years but…there are a few hazards that need to be monitored.

If you’re working in a refrigerated hold where the temperature is 0°C to 3°C on average there is no real need for all the PPE unless you’re going to be there for an extended period.

Working in a freezer hold is a whole different world where temperatures from -2°C to -60°C or even lower are maintained PPE is essential.

How does your body respond to the cold?

While this newsletter is about refrigerated holds this part is also relevant to being in the water!

When the body is exposed to the cold, it responds in two way to reduce heat loss:

  1. By constricting the blood vessels in the skin and extremities (fingers and toes) to keep your core as warm as possible: and
  2. By increasing the metabolic heat product rate, either by physical work you are doing, or by shivering. Shivering is an independent way of increasing your heat production through as it increases oxygen consumption and reduces your effectiveness.

As your body responds in these ways, it is using more energy than it would in ambient temperatures. Hence, it is burning food and drink faster and will tire faster.

The serious risks of working in cold environments

If you stay in cold environments for extended periods of time and/or are not wearing suitable protective clothing, your body may be at risk of more serious implications. These can include:

  • Frostbite. This is where the fluids in the body tissues actually freeze, causing permanent damage to the skin. Body parts at the most risk to this are the extremities; fingers, toes, the nose and the ear lobes.

  • Hypothermia. This is where your body temperature decreases significantly (below 35°C) and can ultimately (and quickly) lead to death. Early symptoms include confused though processes, loss of general motor control, slurred speech, aggressive shivering and a perception the victim feels hot. Hypothermia is rare in cold storage however and can be avoided through protective clothing that is adequate, and importantly, not damp or wet.
  • Long term conditions. Conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism and bronchitis are commonly associated with the cold, and may only come out years after working in the cold. Muscle and tissue damage can also occur.

Other factors for cold storage facilities

Cold Stores and Warehouses often have poor ventilation, which presents a hazard. Any gases or contaminants, such as LPG or fumes from forklifts, will not easily escape and could be dangerous for those working in the room.

Another thing to consider is ammonia is often used for refrigeration which can be deadly, should there be a leak on site. If you are worried about any irritating smells inside the cold store you should report them quickly to your supervisor.

Another area to focus on is door openings between different areas. Because of the changes in temperatures or conditions, ice/water/condensation can build up in these areas, making them extremely slippery and dangerous.

Back to the boats!

It’s critical that if you have cold storage on your vessel that you have a procedure to ensure the safety of your crew when entering and working in the refrigerated hold.

Here’s a few key point to observe:

  • Always notify someone that you are about to enter the refrigerated hold
  • Ensure you have another crew member in attendance while you are in the hold
  • Prior to entry ensure you have the appropriate PPE
  • Test the space prior to entering if you have the appropriate gas meter
  • Be aware of refrigeration gas, remember it colourless, odourless and can kill you. While some newer gases are less potent than the older ones still remain alert at all times
  • While working in the refrigerated hold the hatch must be left open
  • Do not enter a refrigerated hold if you see a crew member fall down due to refrigeration gas poisoning

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Our top recommendation is if you have refrigeration onboard it’s wise to carry an Emergency Life Support Apparatus (ELSA). By donning the ELSA, you have 15 minutes (or other time based on the brand) which allows you to enter the hold to rescue a crew member safely.


If you have refrigeration onboard remember it’s not just the refrigerated compartment that presents a potential problem. It may be the engine room or other area where the refrigeration equipment is located. So, at all times remain aware of potential refrigeration gas leaks.

I know we’ve been over this before, but as it’s the start of a New Year.

Getting on top of all of these things should be a priority for all business owners and operators!


While this is a bit lengthy I strongly urge anyone who owns, operates or manages a business to read this newsletter to the end.


If you have your workplace safety management systems in place that’s great but…

are they up to date?

Have you completed your annual review or just hoping it’s all good?


Don’t have a safety management system in place then you’re at risk of some very heavy penalties if there’s an incident or accident in your workplace!

Here’s three reasons why an OHSMS must be in place in YOUR organisation:


  1. A Brisbane based company was fined $3 million for Industrial Manslaughter. A worker was killed in a forklift crush accident. The company did not have any safety systems or a traffic management plan. 
  2. Dreamworld was fined $3.6 million for 3 x category two offences. The Thunder River Rapids Ride accident killed four members of the public. They did have a safety management system in place but was not followed!
  3. A paper mill was fined $1.01 million for 2 x category two offences. Two workers died and a third was placed in mortal peril after being exposed to hydrogen sulphide in a tank.

The above fines do not include personal settlements, that of course, can be extremely costly!

Categories of offences

There are four categories of offences which I’ve outlined below. I’ve outlined these to demonstrate what penalties can be applied in Queensland. Other states and territories are similar!

Industrial Manslaughter

This is the highest penalty where a person or PCBU causes the death of a worker


Where a PCBU, or senior officer, commits industrial manslaughter, a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment for an individual, or $10 million for a body corporate, applies.

Category 1

This is the next highest penalty


  • For a corporation: up to $3 million
  • Individual as a person conducting a PCBU: up to $600,000 / 5 years jail
  • Individual (worker) Up to $300,000 / 5 years jail


Category 2

Failure to comply with a health and safety duty or electrical safety duty that exposes a person to risk of death, serious injury or illness. Offences will be prosecuted in the Magistrates Court.


  • For a corporation: up to $1.5 million
  • Individual as a person conducting a PCBU: up to $300,000
  • Individual (worker) Up to $150,000


Category 3

Failure to comply with a health and safety duty or electrical safety duty. Offences will be prosecuted in the Magistrates Court.


  • For a corporation: up to $500,000
  • Individual as a person conducting a PCBU: up to $100,000
  • Individual (worker) Up to $50,000


The top five problems in safety management today!

  1. Safety culture: The over-riding focus on safety culture leads organisations to focus more on how much individual workers care about safety, rather than organisational resources on understanding and improving the conditions surrounding the work itself to manage tangible risks.


  1. Safety performance measures: An exclusive focus on measuring the workplace injuries that occur (which are often minor when compared with the serious risks workers face) pushes resources towards reacting to minor problems instead of proactively focusing on material risk reduction.


  1. Safety work: Investing in safety work activities, inspections, audits, investigations, training and risk assessments are often nothing more than a “tick and flick” exercise leading to a safety culture leading to safety clutter and disempowerment. At worst it creates the illusion of safety management that in turn makes organisations less safe.


  1. Safety communication: Top down broadcast style communication in organisations – including generic messages and platitudes – supress the flow of information from the front line people in the organisation with decision making authority. The people in the organisation with the knowledge on how to improve safety don’t have the power to do so and the people with the power don’t have the front line knowledge of what is best practice.


  1. Safety professionals: Safety managers and officers in organisations spend time on administrative tasks that make managers in the organisation feel safe without having any actual impact on how safe frontline workers are. Safety professionals are rarely involved in the strategic and operational decisions that have the most impact on creating the conditions for safety or reducing incidents within the organisation.


There is a clear pathway for your organisation to address these five problems with safety management today, and it will require a significant departure from current thinking about safety. Here’s a three point plan as a starting point to review your safety management approach.


  1. Focus on how work is done, not on the attitude of workers or safety processes;
  2. Understand the serious injury risks and build the psychological safety to communicate about their status openly and continually;
  3. Re-design the role safety professionals so they can proactively lead material risk reduction efforts.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

My main recommendation is to take into account the three point plan above and review your existing safety management system or if you don’t have one yet use those three points when developing yours.

Critical action is to do a complete review on your existing system to ensure it meets WHS legislation and has procedures that are developed based on “how the task is actually done” and up to date!

Secondly, if you don’t have a safety management system in place in your organisation it’s seriously time to get it underway…now! If in doubt go back and check the three reasons why to have an OHSMS in place.


There are a multitude of safety management companies and individuals out there trying to sell their wares and some are good while others not so good.

My number one tip is to do your homework before engaging anyone to do your safety management system and ensure they have hands on experience in your industry.

Engaging someone with a list of qualifications but NO industry experience has the potential to cause problems down the track and…it’s something I’ve witnessed a number of times before.


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!

Are Boils Contagious?

On their own, boils are not contagious. However, the infection inside a boil can be contagious if it is caused by a staph bacteria.

If you or someone close to you has a boil that is actively leaking pus, you should cover it — or encourage them to keep the abscess covered — with a clean bandage.

Can boils spread?

Technically, boils cannot be spread. However, the infection that causes the red bump in your skin is likely caused by Staphylococcus aureus.

This staph bacteria can be spread by contact with other people or with other parts of your body, possibly resulting in boils or another type of infection.

Boils can also be caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). This isa type of bacteria that has become immune to some antibiotics, making it harder to treat.

If a boil has been caused by MRSA, you must be very careful to prevent the pus and liquid from the boil from coming into contact with other people.

How do I prevent boils from spreading?

To prevent the infection inside of boils from causing other infection, you must practice good hygiene and care for the infected area.

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Do not touch the infected area more than necessary.
  • Do not share towels, razors, or washcloths.
  • Cover the wound with clean bandages.
  • Do not attempt to pop or lance (cut open with a sharp instrument) the boil at home.
  • Wash the area gently and often with a washcloth, but do not reuse washcloth.

What is a boil exactly?

A boil is an infection that develops inside the hair follicle. Therefore, boils can occur anywhere that you have hair, but are commonly found on the

  • face
  • armpit
  • thighs
  • buttocks
  • pubic area

A boil occurs in the hair follicle and pushes itself up towards the surface of the skin. The bump that results from the boil is filled with pus. If the infection spreads to hair follicles in the immediate area, the boil is classified as a carbuncle which is a cluster of boils.

How do you get boils?

Boils are caused by an infection that develops in the hair follicle. You have a higher risk if you have:

  • come in contact with staph bacteria
  • a weakened immune system
  • diabetes
  • eczema
  • shared personal items with someone who has boils
  • come in contact with surfaces that may carry bacteria such as wrestling mats, public showers or gym equipment.

Boils are not typically sexually transmitted. However, if you come in close contact with someone who has a boil that is leaking, you should wash with antibacterial soap as soon as possible.

You should encourage that person to keep the boil covered. The pus inside of a boil commonly carries contagious bacteria.

How do I treat a boil?

Boils can heal on their own with time, but usually need to drain in order to heal completely.

To help the boil heal quickly, apply warm compresses to the boil to help it open naturally and drain.

Do not pick or attempt to pop your boil as this will allow the pus to come in contact with other surfaces and spread infection. Be sure to keep the area clean and covered with sterile bandages.

If your boil does not heal on its own in two weeks, you may need to have the boil surgically lanced and drained. A doctor will make an incision in your boil to allow the pus to drain. The doctor may pack the wound with gauze to help soak up any excess pus.


Boils themselves are not contagious, but the pus and liquid inside of the boil can cause additional infection to yourself and others. The pus can contain bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus.

If you have a boil, keep the area clean and do not share personal items with other people.

Sharing towels or clothing that touches the area can cause the bacteria to spread to other people or other places on your body, which can result in more boils or other types of infections.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Personal hygiene is our top recommendation to prevent boils from occurring. Commercial vessels all have (or are meant to have) an up to date medical supplies which include the drugs required to treat boils.

If you notice anything that is a potential boil tell the Master immediately so as you can be treated before serious issues develop.


Personal hygiene is key but so is ensuring you cloths, bedding, towels, etc. are kept clean and free from the bacteria that transmits boils.

Our best tip is to wash your cloths using a medicated anti-bacterial treatment in your washing machine. We strongly recommend using Seabreeze Puro Rinse which has been scientifically proven to kill the bacteria and fungi in your washing machine and your washing including cloths, bedding, etc.  Click Here to purchase for only $23.95 including free shipping!