Tag Archive for: Marine Safety

Here at Shorlink, we have reopened after our Christmas Break and rearing to face 2022 with a renewed vigour for our industry, especially in safety and training.

Hopefully, your business’ have flourished over a season that was much needed given the past 2 years and what we have all faced. Now is not the time to reflect, it’s time to move forward and to do that, we want to make sure that both yourself, your crew and your business have everything in place to be successful and safe.

This is a long newsletter, however, we feel it is important!

 

Here is a checklist that you should complete to start the year!

 

  1. Risk Assessment!
    Is your Risk Assessment updated, or have you ever done one?

AMSA advises that your operations and just as important, your SMS should be based on a risk assessment of your operations. If you have not completed one or left it a while – Call Shorlink!

  1. Safety Management System (SMS)
    Is your SMS up to date AND provides the legal protection that you need?

We hear so often…. I have a SMS, I’ve done mine online, I’ll just update the dates on my existing one, or worse, I’ll let you know if I need one.

This is AMSA’s directive: All domestic commercial vessels must have a safety management system (SMS). This system will demonstrate and document how your vessel meets the mandatory general safety duties.

An SMS is an important aspect of your vessel as it details all the important policies, practices, and procedures that are to be followed in order to ensure the safe functioning at sea. The SMS needs to be reviewed annually and recorded appropriately of Section 12 of your SMS.

We do a hand over of our SMS’s, we don’t just deliver and leave. We do this with the owners and/or crew to ensure that every person handling the SMS knows it, understands it, and follows it. A great question to ask your crew….. what happens if the Skipper has a heart attack, what do you do? If the question is answered different ways or worse still, they are unsure, please contact us to do a handover with them.

You need one!
It’s needs to be updated, especially if you have made any changes to your vessel!
Please ensure your SMS covers you legally if the worse was to happen.

If you’re reading this, questioning whether your SMS is OK, it’s not. You should have 100% confidence in it, as much as your vessel being safe, so give us a call to discuss for peace of mind.

  1. Training!
    Do I/We really need it? Yes!

We believe that AMSA will be ramping up their inspections in the near future to ensure every vessel and person at sea is following the SMS and handling their vessel safely.

Here at Shorlink, we’ve seen an increase in demand for our training services. Last year, we added to our staff, with Lindsay Hutton. Lindsay has over 20 years hands on experience in the marine industry and his knowledge and training style is incredible and invaluable to his participants. Having both Wayne and Lindsay at the helm of our training division, we believe we offer the very best of the best training to our clients.

Training gives peace of mind to the owners and/or skippers that they have provided the necessary training to ensure their vessel and in turn their business is operating as it should in every facet.

Our training services include:

 Onboard Safety Training – onboard your vessel

 Practical Vessel Handling – onboard your vessel

 Practical Flares & Fire Extinguisher Training – our participants let off actual flares

We also offer individual training courses according to our client’s needs.

Training makes the difference between a successful outcome and a disaster!

Our aim and focus are to not only to ensure your crew are able to handle emergencies but handle them efficiently and effectively. Click Here for more information on our training services.

  1. Log Books!
    Are they completed correctly? Do you have one for all your needs?

If you’ve spoken to Wayne, our Principal Consultant at any length, then you understand the importance of Log Books.

On an AMSA Inspection Report, they have a very large section with covers ‘Documentation.’  AMSA take this extremely seriously and if you don’t have a log book when it is required OR IT IS COMPLETED INCORRECTLY OR NOT AT ALL, then AMSA can and will cease your operations immediately.

All log books should be treated with as much importance as fuel. These books are an integral part of the vessel and its operations.

After seeing log books that were not designed correctly, over complicated, hard to follow/use or a combination of all, Shorlink have designed and released Log Books both our company and clients are successfully using for years! In fact, we’ve been told they are the best in the industry, and we agree!

These log books have been developed for easy, simply use that meets the requirements for your vessel.

In Australia, both owners and AMSA require specific information to be recorded in your vessels log book plus there are other vital details, especially if your involved in a marine incident.

Our log books provide ALL the details that MUST be recorded and other information to ensure you are covered! We even include a sample page so as you have a full understanding of how to fill out your log books correctly!

We also develop Log Books to suit owner’s specific requirements.

Check out our full range of Log Books, by Clicking Here with free postage!

  1. Maintenance!
    Is your vessel/s to code and have you noted the changes in your SMS.

We’ve seen many owners and/or business’ using the down time over the last two years to upgrade and update their vessels. This is great use of time. It’s never too late.

Maintenance is key to ensuring there are no ongoing issues in the future, especially during a busy season when no-one wants to be on the slip, instead of on the water, making money.

Now, if you have completed any maintenance, ensure to update your Log Books accordingly.

If you have made any changes to your vessel, including but not limited to new engine, gearbox etc, please contact Shorlink as your SMS will need updating immediately.

  1. Medical Stores!
    Check and stock!

We recommend that Medical Stores should be checked before any vessel departs. However, here is a reminder to check to ensure your medical supplies are all fully stocked and overstocked in some cases for products that are used often, especially if you will be out to sea for a period of time.

Also, check expiry dates of all products and replace where necessary.

Making sure your Medical Stores Log Book is designed to record the dispensing of ALL medical supplies to enable a verifiable means of tracking. Having this log book allows the Master and/or Owner to monitor usage of items and who they were dispensed to and how often.

Shorlink offers a Medical Log Book. Click Here to see!

  1. Emergency and Safety Equipment!
    Check and Replace!

Where do we start!! This is the most common equipment which is overlooked and assumed all is fine and usable – believe me, they can easily deteriorate or become out of date without realising.

Fire Extinguishers – making sure you have the right extinguisher for any emergency is key to ensuring the safety. We have actually seen where a vessel has been saved and lost on the back of the correct or incorrect extinguisher being used. Obviously, also ensuring they are within date of use, and there is no corrosion on any part of the equipment. If in doubt, replace.

Fire Blankets – when was the last time you checked? These easily become something thrown at the back of a cupboard, normally in the galley. Or if it is hung up, it never gets opened or used. How do you know it is still intact? Check all fire blankets and ensure they are accessible, and crew know how to use these efficiently.

Flares – check all flares are within usable date, especially for future and that all crew know how to correctly locate and use these in an emergency.

Lifejackets– Tracey, our Administrator has been shocked at the images that have passed our business of the condition of lifejackets on some vessels. We all understand the importance of lifejackets in an emergency, but when you are out on the water often, many crew become complacent with them.

All lifejackets should not be water logged while stored, this can cause corrosion which means they made fall apart in an emergency.

Lifejackets should be stowed in a dry location and be easily accessible in an emergency. Especially if you have large crew/passengers – you should have an accessible point that provides easy distribution. Also, all crew and passengers should know how to don them if necessary. Also, bringing attention using the lifejacket if required in an emergency.

We understand that this list is long and comprehensive. However, taking 10 minutes now to complete can assist with ensuring the safety of your crew, business and vessel.

Now, let’s focus on a great 2022 and also feel free to contact Shorlink should you need!


Shorlink’s Recommendation

If you have questioned any part of the checklist, please contact us immediately.

It is imperative, that your business, vessel and crew are conducting themselves safely and within guidelines at all times and we want to assist to ensure that happens.

Here at Shorlink, our priority has been and will always be Safety.

That is why we offer free assessments of your SMS, and we are happy to chat on the phone any time, obligation free to ensure our industry stays and remains buoyant, safe and flourishes!


Tip

Complete our checklist, please!

If you would like us to email you a simplified copy of the checklist for ease of completing, please send an email to admin@shorlink.com

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

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

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

  1. A deckhand on trawler with 2 deckhands onboard walked into the wheelhouse and found the Master lying unconscious on the wheelhouse deck. What should he do?

  1. A charter vessel was on a night time delivery voyage when the mate entered the wheelhouse to relive the Master who was not there. Where is the Master?

 

  1. Onboard a trawler that was working the Mate walked into the wheelhouse to advise it was time to winch up but there was no Master. What happened to the Master?

Do these examples sound strange, well it’s sad to say but all 3 are real life situations that actually occurred!

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

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

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

What do these 3 examples tell you?

Very simply Masters are not bullet proof and therefore every SMS should have a procedure for dealing with an incapacitated Master.

Does your SMS have an Incapacitated Master procedure?

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


Shorlink’s Recommendation

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


Tip

My tip is to ensure you include the one thing I have NOT seen in every Incapacitated Master procedure I’ve reviewed and that is “what’s the boat doing and where is it”.

Those two things are what can save you from having 1 emergency situation to encountering multiple emergencies.

Note that while this article refers to a road vehicle it could have quite easily been a vessel!

A firm in Victoria has been convicted and fined $300,000 after a worker was permanently disabled in a gas bottle explosion.

The company pleaded guilty in the Melbourne County Court to failing to provide a work environment that was safe and without risks to health and failing to ensure persons other than employees were not exposed to risks to their health and safety.

The court heard a company vehicle caught on fire when gas bottles containing acetylene and oxygen, which were being transported from a supplier, exploded in the vehicle’s fully enclosed toolbox.

The court also heard the two gas bottles had been placed unsecured and on their side as the ute’s enclosed canopy was too low to allow the worker to place them in an upright position.

This allowed acetylene vapour and air to mix and explode.

A witness to the incident said the fire damaged overhead powerlines and nearby cars, while other gas bottles in the ute also ignited.

About 12 people attended the scene and attempted to put the fire out and rescue the driver from the vehicle.

The worker requires a wheelchair and has memory loss as a result of multiple traumatic, physical and mental injuries.

The court heard the company failed to have a system of work in place for the transportation of gas bottles, including adequate ventilation and ensuring the bottles were properly secured and upright when moved.

Procedures for handling highly flammable chemicals like acetylene gas could not be left to chance, said WorkSafe Victoria executive director of health and safety Julie Nielsen.

“A worker will be dealing with horrific physical and mental injuries from this incident for the rest of their lives,” Nielsen said.

“This incident should serve as a reminder to all employers, contractors and tradies that they need to ensure dangerous goods are handled with care.

“Where gas bottles are used as part of a business it is essential that employers put health and safety first, because the consequences of not doing so can be catastrophic.”

Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) bottles also present potential hazards as LPG is 1.5 – 2.0 times heavier than air.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

Always ensure gas bottles are stored and/or transported in accordance with their Safety Data Sheet (SDS) at all times.

Secondly ensure there is appropriate ventilation to prevent gas build ups and the potential for an explosion.


Tip

Always have fire extinguishers on-site and available where acetylene, LPG and other gas bottles containing flammable gas are stored or used.

Acetylene cylinder general handling guidelines:

  1. Always use or have access to protective clothing and equipment
  2. Keep cylinders away from flammable substances
  3. Acetylene cylinders should always be stored upright with the valve in the upward position
  4. The cylinder should always be kept closed when not in use
  5. The cylinders need to be protected from potential mechanical and physical damages

 


Log Books

While not a log book as such a Fire Safety Manual is a requirement for a number of vessels including certain passenger vessels, vessels transporting dangerous goods and others. Shorlink can develop a Fire Safety Manual to suit your operations

I’m often asked who are deemed special staff and what functions do they undertake onboard?

Special Staff can be entertainers, café workers, bar staff of any other role onboard where they are actual crew members involved in vessel operations.

Although many Special Staff have specific roles in the event of an emergency where they may be involved in crowd control or other specific task not directly related to the vessel itself.

A key point is that ALL Special Staff personnel must be inducted onto the vessel even if they are not involved in any emergency response tasks.

Special Staff who work in galleys and/or café areas should have a basic understanding of how to deal with a fire in their area.

Fires need immediate attention and if your Special Staff have to wait for a deckhand to arrive the fire could be out of control by the time they arrive on the scene.

Other Special Staff can be valuable in providing crowd control leaving the vessels crew to deal with the emergency situation at hand.

It can be as simple as directing passengers to an Assembly Point, helping them don their lifejacket, conducting a head count or checking for injuries.

The more people trained in emergency response onboard your vessel the easier it is to deal with the situation at hand.

Having an emergency action plan that involves your Special Staff provides much greater protection for your passengers, crew and vessel in the event of an emergency situation. Some commercial vessels have cooks onboard and these should be included in emergency response procedures.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

Our recommendation is all Special Staff to have emergency response training relevant to their duties onboard.. All Special Staff should have basic fire response training in how to use a fire blanket and fire extinguishers.

In addition, they should all have basic training in crowd control measures, donning lifejackets and assembly station procedures.


Tip

One of the best tips we can offer is to have Special Staff who are regular workers onboard to have First Aid training.

This alone can free up crew members allowing them to concentrate on the situation at hand while knowing that First Aid is being provided by Special Staff.

Distress flares are a valuable safety item that can aid rescuers in locating you in the event of an emergency but…they can be extremely dangerous!

While flares are easy to use it’s important that you know how to use them properly and safely to ensure you don’t get injured. First, let’s look at the 3 types of flares used in maritime today.

Orange Smoke

When activated, they let off a cloud of orange smoke, which can’t be extinguished due to heavy rain or howling wind. These are good as a line-of-sight distress signal, but because there’s nothing burning (and so nothing glowing) they’re suited for daytime use only.

Red Handheld

These are effective as a line-of-sight distress signal by day and night. Red handheld flares are very bright with a good visibility range. They are very visible from an aircraft and will usually burn for up to 60 seconds.

Parachute or Rocket

These flares are capable of attracting attention in daylight for up to 10 miles depending on conditions and up to 40 miles at night. The rocket launches the flare up to a height of about 300 meters and the flare burns for 40-60 seconds as it slowly descends. Don’t use this type of flare when there is a helicopter or aircraft overhead.

Flare readiness

It’s important that you read and understand the activating instructions for your flares before you need to use them. Tying to read the instructions in an emergency situation when you’re under pressure and stressed can lead to serious injury or a failure to let the flare off when most needed.

  • Activating mechanisms vary so make sure that you read the instructions printed on the sides. It’s not the right time to learn how to use a flare when you’re in trouble on the water.
  • If you’re the Master it’s your responsibility to ensure all your crew know where they are stowed and how to use them.
  • As a crew member you should take responsibility and know where they are stowed and how to use them.
  • Always store flares in a waterproof container in an area that is easily accessible in the event of an emergency.
  • Remember, distress flares are not toys and should never be played or tampered with at any time.

Activating Distress Flares

You’re in an emergency situation and need to attract attention to help rescuers narrow down your position but…do not let off your flares until there is someone to see them.

  • Hold hand-held flares over the downwind side of the boat with your arm fully outstretched. Flares burn with extreme heat and can very easily damage your boat, your life raft or people.
  • Point them away from yourself, anyone else and the superstructure of the boat.
  • Flares are extremely bright and you should not look directly at the light as it will damage your eyesight.
  • Parachute flares should be fired downwind at ideally a 15 to 20 degree angle off vertical
  • If you’re in a life raft ensure they are activated outside of the raft and over the side.

Never set flares off unless you are in distress!

 

Disposal of “out of date” flares

Old or out of date flares should not be kept as spares, because the propellant degrades over time. While an expired flare may still fire, there’s no guarantee and…do you want a flare to fail when you really need it?  Every flare should have a date of manufacture and an expiry date.

Most VMR or Air Sea Rescue bases take old flares and many State maritime organisations such as Maritime Safety Queensland also take old flares.

Never put them in the rubbish or leave them outside for someone to collect as expired flares should be treated as explosives. In fact, expired flares come under the Explosives Act not any maritime act!


Shorlink’s Recommendation

We strongly recommend undertaking one of our Distress Flare training sessions where every participant gets hands on experience in letting a flare off.

We include an introduction to flares and their use along with an outline of actual experiences in emergency situations. This is followed up with all participants activating a distress flare under the guidance of our highly experienced trainer. Contact our office for details on 07 4242 1412.


Tip

At all times when using distress flares keep hold of the handle only. Do not allow your fingers to move up on the flare as they generate high heat levels, especially red hand-held flares!

When using RFD red hand-held flares be aware that they have a tube that is pulled out of the holder and must be fully extended prior to activation. Ensure when you pull it out it actually locks in place otherwise it may slide back down into the holder and cause it to burn.

While conducting onboard training and auditing log books it’s become apparent that Master’s either don’t know what they are required to record in the deck log or simply just don’t care.

Marine Order 504 clearly specifies what must be recorded in your log book. Failing to record the required information may leave you exposed in the event of an incident.

Your vessels Log Book  is one of the first things an investigator will look at when investigating an incident.

If the required information is not in the log then you may have serious trouble defending yourself so make sure you record what’s required!

What MO 504 specifies as must be recorded?

The Master must ensure the following details are recorded in the vessels Log Book:

  1. Any illness or injury of persons onboard;
  2. Any marine incident, other incident or accident involving the vessel or its equipment;
  3. Any assistance rendered to another vessel;
  4. Any unusual occurrence or incident;
  5. All communications/messages sent or received for an emergency;
  6. Any operation of the vessel for recreational purposes.

What we recommend as additional information?

  1. Time of departure and arrival;
  2. Time of any passenger briefing where passengers are carried;
  3. New crew inductions and training;
  4. Time of induction of any other persons onboard. This may be contractors, technicians, observers or any other person;
  5. Proposed destination or course;
  6. Summary of weather conditions on departure;
  7. Position at regular intervals;
  8. Any major changes in weather conditions;
  9. Bunkering if not recorded elsewhere;
  10. Dispensing of medical supplies if not recorded elsewhere
  11. Ongoing emergency training;
  12. Any safety issues

While all this sounds like a lot of writing it only takes a few seconds once you get the hang of it.

By keeping a detailed Log Book, you are effectively providing a layer of protection for yourself when an incident occurs.

Many Masters say to me that they’re too busy to do this, but my response is a few seconds every couple of hours can save you days or even months in court defending yourself!


Shorlink’s Recommendation

Our primary recommendation is to ensure you record all of the requirements of MO 504 and we strongly recommend recording all new crew inductions, your position at regular intervals, any noticeable changes in weather and passenger inductions where applicable.

These few items are going to be a big help in the event of a marine incident and possibly time and money in legal costs.


Tip

Our number one recommendations is to get in the habit of keeping your Log Book up to date at all times because you never know when you may need it.


Log Books Deck Log Book

Vessel Log Books are a necessity but there are so many variations out there in size, format and levels of complexity. This is why we developed our Log Book in an easy-to-use format with only the necessary requirements to make recording your information easy. So many of our clients and non-clients have switched to our easy-to-use Log Book, why don’t you?

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sling selection needs to take into consideration:

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

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

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

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

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

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


Shorlink’s Recommendation

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

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

 


Tip

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

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

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