Tag Archive for: Incident

Dealing with permanent incapacity and death

This topic is one that is close to my heart as over the years as I’ve lost a number of friends and acquaintances then witnessed their businesses end up in turmoil and families not knowing what to do next.


Unfortunately, this is not a subject that many people consider or even want to think about BUT: the reality is you should be considering what would happen to your business if you became permanently incapacitated or worse still… died!


Business continuity planning is something that most business owners, yes if you own a commercial boat you’re a business owner, don’t take seriously or even consider.


What would happen if you were suddenly permanently incapacitated and unable to do the thing you used to do? If you only own a small business or one vessel you could sell it or get someone else to run it for you but what happens if you own a larger business or a number of vessels?


Owning a larger business means you have workers, most of whom have families to consider. If you own a number of vessels means you have crew to consider and possibly shore staff not to mention the work you would normally be doing.


You may be operating the business or one of the vessels yourself or maybe you do the majority of management.


Either way, there is sudden hole in your operations which can drastically impact on your business operations and income of those who work for you not to mention your personal income.


Go one step further and consider what would happen if you were to suddenly die? Being incapacitated means that you may still be able to undertake some work depending on the nature of the situation but…

…when you’re dead you’re not going to be doing anything!


I know these are hard questions and ones that most don’t consider until it’s too late but over many years I been involved with several businesses where these incidents have occurred.


In almost every case there was no continuity plan in place which left the business in turmoil. The flow on effect is workers are without income not to mention the family of the owner are often left with a business they either knew little about or how to run it in many cases.


As I said earlier if it’s a small  business or a single vessel operation it may be as simple as selling the business or vessel which is OK if you’re incapacitated because you know what to do. What happens if you’re not around because of your hospitalisation or worse still death?


Do those remaining know what to do in selling the business or vessel or if keeping it is the option how to get the right workers and then manage the operation?


While most people know that I’m an advocate for safety management systems I’m equally and advocate for business strategies which include…


  1. Continuity planning: This is the process of creating systems of prevention and recovery to deal with potential threats to a company including permanent incapacity or death of the owner or owners;


  1. Succession planning: This is a process for identifying and developing internal and/or external people with the potential to fill key business leadership positions in the company;


  1. Exit strategy planning: This is the process of explicitly defining exit-related objectives for the owner(s) of a business, followed by the design of a comprehensive strategy and road map that take into account all personal, business, financial, legal, and taxation aspects of achieving those objectives.


While all this may sound like a lot it’s how you need to be focused if you’re a business owner. Failure to take these things into account may leave your family and workers in a dangerous position.


Things to consider


While this is a subject that most people simply don’t want to face, the reality is you need to and… you need do it sooner rather than latter because all so often latter is simply too late!


Here are a few points to consider…

  • How big is your business
  • How many workers do you have
  • How many vessels to you own
  • Do you have vessels on charter
  • Are you operating chartered or leased vessels
  • Do you have shore based facilities
  • What is your level of debt
  • Do you have emergency funds in hand or available
  • Do you have a business continuity plan in place
  • If so does it take into account becoming permanently incapacitated and death
  • Do you have workers including crew and/or shore staff
  • Do you have sub-contractors
  • Do you have a will
  • Does someone have power of attorney for you
  • Does someone other than yourself have access to finances
  • Do you have immediate family


These are just a few things to take into account when putting together a business continuity plan.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

The very best recommendation we can give is that when developing your business continuity plan, you need to take into account anything that can or may affect the ongoing operation of your business.

Not only incapacity or death but also things such as natural disasters, premises or vessel loss, financial situations, changes in government regulations and anything else that may cause major disruptions to your business operations.


If you don’t have a documented continuity plan in place my best tip is to get one underway NOW!

If you’re unsure about how to develop a business continuity plan don’t hesitate to contact me as I’ve been involved in the development of these for many years in not only in maritime but also in a range of other industries.

Having the right medical stores in your workplace can and has saved lives. This is why SafeWork have developed a Code of Practice for First aid in the workplace.

Who has health and safety duties in relation to first aid?

Duty holders who have a role in first aid include:

  • persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs)
  • designers, manufacturers, importers, suppliers and installers of plant, substances or structures; and
  • officers

Person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU)

A PCBU must ensure:

  • provision of first aid equipment
  • each worker at the workplace has access to the equipment
  • access to facilities for administering first air; and
  • an adequate number of workers are trained to administer first aid, or workers have access to an adequate number of people who have been trained to administer first aid

A PCBU may net need to provide first aid equipment or facilities if these are already provided by another duty holder at the workplace and they are adequate and easily accessible at the times the workers carry out work.

What is required in providing first aid?

First aid requirements will vary from one workplace to the next depending on the nature of the work, the types of hazards, the workplace size and location as well as the number of people at the workplace. These factors must be taken into account when deciding what first aid arrangements are provided.

How to determine first aid requirements for your workplace.

Certain work environments have greater risks of injury and illness due to the nature of work being carried out and the nature of the hazards in the workplace.

The table below identifies injuries associated with common workplace hazards that may require first aid.


HazardPotential harm
Manual tasksOverexertion can cause muscular strain
Working at heights or on uneven or slippery surfacesSlips, trips and falls can cause fractures, bruises, lacerations, dislocations, concussion
ElectricityPotential ignition source – could cause injuries from fire. Exposure to live electrical wires can cause shock, burns or cardiac arrest
Machinery and equipmentBeing hit by moving vehicles or being caught by moving parts of machinery can cause fractures, amputation, bruises, lacerations, dislocations
Hazardous chemicalsToxic or corrosive chemicals may be inhaled or may contact skin or eyes causing poisoning, chemical burns, irritation.

Flammable chemicals could result in injuries from fire or explosion.

Extreme temperaturesHot surfaces and materials can cause burns

Working in extreme heat can cause heat-related illness. It can also increase the risks by reducing concentration and increasing fatigue and chemical uptake into the body.

Exposure to extreme cold can cause hypothermia and frostbite.

RadiationWelding arc flashes, ionising radiation and lasers can cause burns.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can cause skin cancers and eye damage.

ViolenceBehaviours including intimidation and physical assault can cause both physical and psychological injuries
BiologicalInfection, allergic reactions
AnimalsBites, stings, kicks, crush injuries, scratches


Records of injuries, illnesses, “near miss” incidents and other information will be useful when making decisions about first aid requirements.

You should take into account:

  • the distance between work areas; and
  • the response times for emergency services

A large workplace may require first aid to be available in more than one location if:

  • work is being carried out a long distance from emergency services
  • workers are dispersed over a wide area
  • access to a party of the workplace is difficult; or
  • the workplace has more than one floor level.

There are other factors to consider but go beyond the scope of this newsletter. For further information please contact our office.

First aid kits

All workers must be able to access a first aid kit. This requires at least one first aid kit to be provided at the workplace.


The first aid kit should provide basic equipment for administering first aid for injuries including:

  • cuts, scratches, punctures, grazes and splinters
  • muscular sprains and strains
  • minor burns
  • amputations and/or major bleeding wounds
  • broken bones
  • eye injuries, and
  • shock

The contents of your first aid kit should be based on a risk assessment which may identify higher risk levels for certain operations.


In the event of a serious injury or illness quick access to the first aid kit is vital. First aid kits should be kept in a prominent, accessible location where they can be retrieved quickly.

Restocking and maintaining kits

A person in the workplace, usually a first aider should be nominated to maintain the first aid kit and should:

  • monitor the usage of first aid kit and ensure items used are replaced as soon as possible after use
  • carry out regular checks after each use or if the kit is not used at least once every 12 months to ensure the kit contains a complete set of the required items. An inventory list in the kit should be signed and dated after each check; and
  • ensure items are in working order, have not deteriorated are within their expiry dates and sterile products are sealed and have not been tampered with.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Number one recommendation to check your first aid kit…you do have one don’t you? The best recommendation we can give is that if you’re unsure about what you need go to a first aid supplier who can then advise you about your requirements.

They can then either upgrade your existing kit or provide you with one that meets your specific requirements.


If you need further information on workplace medical requirements please feel free to contact our office or if you would like an example of contents for first aid kits in the workplace please contact our office


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

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

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

Location: First Aid kits

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

Location: Medical Cabinets

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

In DCV’s they shall be located either:

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

Maintenance of first aid kits and medical cabinets

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

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

Flexibility to determine the type and quantity of first aid supplies

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

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

Equivalent Solution

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

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

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

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

Shorlink’s Recommendation

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

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

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


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

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


A common mistake we often see when reviewing or auditing SMS manual is the grouping of procedures, in particular emergency procedures.

The most common one we see is the grouping together of collision and grounding which sometimes often includes flooding! Let’s look at them individually.


Collisions are when a vessel comes into contact with:

  • Another vessel
  • Navigational aids including beacons, poles and markers
  • A wharf, pontoon or other structure
  • An oyster lease or other aquaculture facility
  • A marine creature such a whale, etc.

A collision can best be described as hitting or colliding with a solid object such as another vessel, navigational aid, infrastructure or a marine creature!

Collisions, in the most part are avoidable by ensuring a proper lookout is maintained at all times when underway and at anchor!

Underway means when not secured to a marina or pole berth, mooring or at anchor. You are underway even if you not secured to any of the items above and do not have your motor running!


A grounding can be described as a vessel coming into contact with:

  • the mainland
  • an island
  • coral reef
  • sand or mud bank.

A grounding can be described as running into a land mass, reef or sand or mud bank!

Groundings as with collisions are avoidable when a proper lookout is maintained in conjunction with good navigational practice.

Good navigational practice means either local knowledge or consulting the chart for the area where you are operating.

By consulting the chart, you will be able to identify all areas where potential grounding may occur and avoid the embarrassment of being left high and dry.

So now I hope you can differentiate between a collision and a grounding and realise that there a two separate procedures required.

The other interesting thing is we often see flooding grouped with collision and grounding. While flooding can occur in either of these  incidents it is again a separate procedure and should not be grouped together with other procedures.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

We recommend you check your SMS to ensure that collision and grounding (and flooding) are not grouped together in one procedure. If they are you need to separate them and develop individual collision and grounding procedures.


When developing a grounding procedure, we recommend you take into account the seabed structures in your areas of operations and reference how you re-float your vessel.

Ensure you are familiar with the areas you operate in including local sea life, navigational aids, infrastructure, land masses, reefs and shallow water areas.

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.



It’s interesting to note that some operators either did not know or failed to take the appropriate actions including updating their Safety Management System (SMS) in relation to AMSA changes.

AMSA announced an amendment to Marine Order 504 in relation to vessels carrying passengers that commenced in May 2020.

The changes!

For Class 1 and Class 2 vessels that are permitted to carry passengers you will be required to have an effective and verifiable means of passenger monitoring to ensure the master is able to find out the number of passengers onboard at any time.

You will be required to undertake a passenger count at the time of embarkation and disembarking for vessels that are:

  • a Class 2 vessel permitted to carry passengers or a Class 1 vessel that is permitted to carry no more than 75 passengers; and
  • is on a voyage of at least 30 minutes and no more than 12 hours scheduled duration and the vessel is not scheduled to stop for embarkation or disembarkation in the first 30 minutes; and
  • is operating in B, C or D waters at any time or E waters outside of daylight hours.

For operators who transport passengers to a water-based activity the passenger count:

  • must include an additional count before the vessel departs from the site; and
  • is not required to be conducted when a vessel is stopped for a water-based activity and a passenger enters or leaves:
  1. the water; or
  2. another vessel used in conjunction with the activity

This means if you’re operating a ferry service or water taxi which has voyages of less than 30 minutes this amendment does not apply.

For most operators who carry passengers on voyages of 30 minutes or more and less than 12 hours you will need to update your Safety Management System (SMS) to incorporate the changes.

The flowchart below will assist in determining what vessel is required to do in relation to passenger monitoring and counts:

Remember: Every passenger counts!

Current regulation is in place to improve passenger safety on domestic commercial vessels. These measures were made in response to fatal and serious non-fatal incidents involving passengers falling overboard.

There are severe penalties that align with the irresponsibility to always ensure the safety of your passengers.

It is equally important that the crew are made aware of their responsibilities, actions, procedures, and consequences.  If in doubt, arrange an immediate training session with your crew and make sure these are ‘real’ sessions, out on the water, with every member of the crew.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

If you operate a passenger carrying vessel as identified above and you haven’t implemented these procedures or updated your SMS to incorporate them we strongly recommend you take action now.

A failure to implement these procedures and/or update your SMS accordingly may attract a severe penalty and in the event of an incident you can end up facing serious legal actions.

Don’t wait! As we have seen with our clients, AMSA have been and will be extremely active this year with vessel and SMS inspections.  Ensure you stay up-to-date of the requirements. This will demonstrate that you are generating a culture of compliance within your business!

As mentioned above, training is key! We have seen so may times crew and other passengers alike, panic, when someone falls overboard. Training with your crew with alleviate the unnecessary panic reaction and replace with a calm and educated response. This will save lives and provide confidence for your crew and passengers.


If you’re having trouble working out what’s required or how to incorporate the changes into your SMS then give us a call and we’ll help get you compliant with the changes.

Shorlink offer ‘Onboard’ Safety training courses for both commercial and reactional operators that include ‘real’ person overboard demonstrations, as well as learning and understanding of your vessel, its equipment and emergency response scenarios including fire, person overboard, collision and more! Click Here for more details!


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

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

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

The Classes of Fire

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

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

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

Dry Powder or Dry Chemical

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

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

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


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

Wet Chemical

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

Shorlink’s Recommendation

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

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


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

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

Firstly, what is restricted visibility?

Many people consider restricted visibility as fog or heavy rain, but the hours between sunrise and sunset are all regarded as restricted visibility. Any condition or situation that restricts your ability to see clearly or hampers your vision is restricted visibility!

In fact, the hours leading up to daylight and sunset can make visibility exceedingly difficult depending on your course in relation to the rising or setting sun.

Most of us have had to operate in these sort of conditions at some time or another and hopefully survived without incident!

By following a simple procedure (you do have one don’t you?) you can make it safer not only for yourself but others as well.

Here’s a guide to good seamanship when operating in restricted visibility.

  1. Always proceed at a safe speed relative to the conditions
  2. Maintain a watch by sight, sound, including your radio and all other available means
  3. Where necessary use the appropriate sound signals (see Sound Signals below)
  4. If a close quarters situation exists you must take appropriate action to avoid a collision (collision means not only with another vessel but also navigational markers or beacons, etc.)
  5. At all times monitor the radio
  6. If other vessels are nearby broadcast your intended movements

Sound Signals

These sound signals are to be used when operating in restricted visibility.

  1. Underway: sound at intervals of not more than 2 minutes apart 1 prolonged blast;
  2. Underway but stopped: sound at intervals of not more than 2 minutes 2 prolonged blasts in succession with an interval of 2 seconds between them
  3. At anchor: ring the bell (if fitted) rapidly for about 5 seconds

When you’re operating in restricted visibility it’s vital that you follow this procedure to ensure the safety of your vessel, all persons onboard and other vessels!

It’s important that you comply with the regulations at all times and for this procedure you can go to the COLREGS Rule 9 – Conduct of vessels in restricted visibility.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

We strongly recommend placing a lookout on the bow when operating in close proximity to other vessels, entering port where maneuverability may be restricted or where other potential dangers exist.

Operating from the wheelhouse where vision is impaired by fog, heavy rain, sunset, sunrise or any other condition can make navigating more difficult.

You may have your sight impacted by interior lights, lights from gauges and/or navigational equipment or other things all of which can cause significant issues. By using a forward lookout, you minimise the risks!


Remember that during periods of heavy rain or other conditions your radar may be impacted and not display potential dangers, especially other vessels. When operating in close proximity to other vessel ensure you maintain communications by using your radio.

This is such a simple action but unfortunately many collisions occur due to a failure to communicate!

Crossing a coastal bar can be an easy task or it can be one of the most dangerous parts of a voyage, so by ensuring you have the knowledge and a sound procedure in place lessens the dangers!

Coastal bars build up at the entrance to coastal rivers and are formed by the movement of sand and sediments. They cause waves to become steeper and often break as they approach the bar. Bars can change quickly and without warning making any crossing dangerous!

Any crossing of a coastal bar can be a dangerous event even when it appears calm. Bars can produce dangerous waves that have the potential cause injury or loss of life and severe damage to or loss of vessels.

All bars are different and remember that slow displacement vessels handle bars differently than high speed planning vessels do.

Going out

The vessel must match the energy of each incoming wave by maintaining a speed that will lift the bow over the wave and reduce the chance of the wave breaking over the bow into the vessel.

Do not hit waves at high speed but take them as close to head-on as possible. Be prepared to take a wave head-on and take water over the bow if there is no other way.

A guideline for you when crossing a bar:

  • cross on an incoming tide when possible
  • look for lulls and choose the line of least wave activity and avoid breaking waves or the calmest water
  • look for the deepest water to avoid grounding
  • keep your vessel head-on to approaching waves. Do not let your vessel turn side on to approaching waves
  • head up into the waves and accelerate where possible, but avoid getting airborne
  • head for the lowest part of the wave and continue until clear.

Coming in

When coming in, high-speed boats (capable of at least 18 knots) should travel at the same speed as the waves.

Slow displacement boats may have to come in very slowly to avoid surfing and getting caught side-on to a wave.

Try to travel in on the back of a wave and stay ahead of waves that break behind the boat. Watch for patterns and deeper areas.

When returning over a bar you should:

  • look for lulls and choose the route of least wave activity
  • look for the deepest water to avoid grounding
  • increase power to maintain speed within the set of waves when approaching from the sea
  • position the boat on the back of the wave – do not surf down the face of the wave
  • adjust the boat’s speed to match the speed of the waves, but do not try to overtake the waves.

In bad conditions, it can be safer to stand off in deeper water, or find another shelter, instead of re-crossing the bar.

For passenger vessels

If you’re operating a passenger vessel and carrying passengers when crossing a coastal bar, it’s critical that you notify all passengers that you are about to cross a bar.

In all but calm weather, advise them to be seated and hold on until advised the bar crossing has been completed. When the bar crossing has been completed advise passengers that the bar crossing has been completed.

Never, at any time allow passenger on the bow area when crossing a coastal bar!

Shorlink’s Recommendation

We strongly recommend that when crossing a bar everyone should wear a lifejacket as no matter the size of your vessel there is always the potential for capsize, especially on rough days! Remember putting a lifejacket on in the water is difficult but putting one in in rough seas is almost impossible!

Choose your route carefully and once you have started keep going as attempting to turn around in front of an incoming wave is dangerous.


Our vital tips for crossing coastal bars.

  • Check the tide and weather
  • Check your vessels steering
  • Check your vessels engine/s and controls
  • Ensure your vessels trim is appropriate
  • Secure all cargo, equipment and other items that may move around
  • Ensure all lines are secure and not likely to go overboard

When working at height the risk of falling can be quite high and is often not addressed properly in many workplaces!

The Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 sets out specific control measures that are required where there is a risk of a fall of at least:

  • 3 metres in housing construction work; and
  • 2 metres in other construction work.

Note that control measures may still be required for work below 3 metres in housing construction and below 2 metres for other construction work if a risk assessment suggests control measures should be provided.

In this newsletter we’ll be focused on the “other construction work” area as it best relates to our clientele.

If you don’t want to be issued an Improvement Notice or a Prohibition Notice then I strongly suggest you read this newsletter!

For other construction work where the risk of falling is 2 metres or more, or on a roof with a slope over 26°

Before starting work the person conducting the business or undertaking must have:

  • Fall prevention controls in place (e.g. edge protection or travel restraint system) to prevent a person falling any distance, or where this is not practicable;
  • Fall arrest controls that arrest a person’s fall (e.g. fall arrest harness or catch platform) and prevent or minimise the risk of death or injury to a person when the fall is arrested.

Note: For work carried out 2 metres and above lower order administrative controls are not permitted on their own.

For other construction work where the risk of falling is less than 2 metres, or on a roof with a slope less than 26°

Before starting work the person conducting the business or undertaking must:

  • Identify the hazards that may result in a fall or cause death or injury if a person were to fall e.g. a picket fence or stack of bricks that could cause injury if a person fell on it; and
  • Assess the risk of death or injury that may result because of the hazard i.e. how likely is it to happen?, how serious could the injury be?; and
  • Use any control measures necessary to prevent or minimise the level of risk. This could include fall prevention, fall arrest, and/or administrative controls.

To ensure you meet all the requirements I’ve provided a guideline for you.

The Risk Management process

While a risk assessment is not mandatory under WHS Regulation it is the best way to determine the measures that should be implemented to control risks. The key points in the process are:

  1. Identifying the hazards: This is the first step in undertaking a risk assessment. This involves finding things which could potentially cause harm to people.
  2. Inspect the workplace: Hazards may be identified by looking at the workplace and how work is carried out. Walk around the workplace and talk to your workers to find out where work is carried out that could result in falls. A checklist can be useful in this process.
  3. Review any available information including incident reports: It can be beneficial to view records of previous incidents (injuries and near misses) and worker complaints related to falls. Information and advice about fall hazards and risks and work activities are available from regulators, industry associations, technical specialists and safety consultants.

Assessing the risks

A risk assessment involves considering what could happen if someone is exposed to a hazard and the likelihood of it happening. A risk assessment can help you determine:

  • How severe the risk is
  • Whether any existing control measure are effective
  • What action you should take to control the risk
  • How urgently the action needs to be taken

Hazards and associated risks have the potential to cause different types of severities of harm ranging form minor discomfort to a serious injury or death.

Remember that if you’re working on a ladder and more than 2 metres high (for other construction work) you need to take this into account as well

Shorlink’s Recommendation

If you have to undertake any work that requires you to work at height as outlined in this newsletter where the potential for a fall exists I strongly recommend you check that you have an up to date procedure in place for working at heights.

A failure to have this in place leaves you exposed to the potential of being issued an Improvement Notice or a Prohibition Notice.


If you’re unsure about undertaking a workplace inspection in relation to potential falls our best tip is to contact our office and request our checklist in relation to identifying hazards relating to falls.