Tag Archive for: Safety

Over the years, most common work-related injuries and fatality rates have decreased thanks to an increase in workplace health and safety measures. But there is still a lot of work to do to get that number down to zero.

The most common work injuries are slips, trips, and falls, overexertion, and contact with equipment. All of these injuries are mostly preventable by taking the proper precautions and adhering to workplace procedures. In this article, we’ll look at the most common work-related injuries and provide some helpful guidelines on how to prevent them.

If you are currently experiencing any type of workplace injury, do not wait to seek medical attention. Even if it seems small, injuries due to falls, overexertion, burns, etc. can progress over time and cause serious complications later on.

The 7 most common workplace injuries

  1. Slips, trips, and falls

Slips, trips, and falls are some of the most common types of workplace injuries and are the top reason for worker’s compensation claims. This includes workers who:

  • Slipped on an icy, oily, or wet floor
  • Tripped due to unprotected sides or holes, poor lighting, or clutter
  • Fell off ladders, roofs, cabin tops, etc.

These types of injuries can be prevented by being aware of your surroundings and by following the operational procedure for Working at Heights

  1. Overexertion and muscle strains

Overexertion injuries like muscle strains and repetitive strain injuries (RSI) can cause long-term debilitating pain and lead to an overall loss in productivity. This type of occupational injury can be caused by:

  • Improper lifting technique
  • Manually lifting heavy objects
  • Repetitive work with no breaks
  • Jumping to another level
  • A collapsing structure
  • Lifting, pushing, carrying, or throwing
  • Microtasks on a factory line
  • Typing or moving a mouse without good ergonomics

To prevent overexertion and muscle strains you should always be following an operational procedure for Manual Handling. Remember, if it’s too heavy ask someone else to help you or use a lifting device or forklift.

To avoid overexertion and reduce your risk for lasting physical harm, ensure you take frequent breaks and that you are using that time to rest and stretch

Untreated injuries can progress over time, causing you more issues down the road.

  1. Struck by workers, equipment, or falling objects

We’ve all walked into the sharp edge of a counter or turned into a wall, but when you’re working in a high-risk industry, these injuries can be far more serious. These types of injuries can include severe hand injuries, severed limbs or fingers, traumatic head injuries, stress fractures or full bone breaks, blindness, and more.

Workplace injuries of this nature are commonly caused by:

  • Poorly guarded machinery
  • Falling tools, debris, or materials
  • A part of the worker’s body being caught in a winch, wire or gears
  • Dropped loads
  • Pressure between the person and the source of the injury
  • The tipping over of heavy equipment
  • Excessive vibration
  • Bumping into an object or equipment
  • Being pushed into a hard surface of any kind
  • Walking into walls or machinery

Thankfully, many of these accidents can be prevented by staying aware of your surroundings, following established policies and procedures, using the proper personal protective equipment (PPE), avoiding loose clothing, and putting away unnecessary hazards.

What happened to the Master: Do you know?

  1. Crashes or collisions

Whether you’re driving a motor vehicle, including forklifts or are working around them, you are at risk of getting hurt in a crash or collision. For example, if you’re working on the ground in a warehouse, you could be hit or run over by a forklift.

Other instances resulting in a crash or collision could include:

  • Falling from a vehicle
  • Forklift roll-over
  • Getting stuck under an overturned vehicle
  • Large-truck drivers drinking and driving
  • Being struck by objects falling from a vehicle
  • Semi, tractor-trailer, and tanker truck crashes

When operating any type of motorised vehicle, ensure you are wearing your seat belt and taking the proper safety measures established by your employer.

Collision V Grounding DO you know the difference?

  1. Exposure to harmful substances or environments

Those who work in loud environments or around hazardous chemicals risk severe injuries to their ears, eyes, skin, and respiratory systems if they are exposed without proper protection.

Be sure to familiarise yourself with any chemical safety data sheets and wear proper ear protection, safety goggles, gloves, and any other required PPE when exposed to harmful substances or loud noises.

6. Fire and explosions

Fires and explosions can burn your body tissue, cause severe damage to your respiratory system, and potentially cause disfigurement. This type of workplace injury is not too common, but it does have the highest casualty rate depending on how close you are to the blast. Injuries for explosions are categorized into four types based on level of impact to your body:

  • Primary blast: injury caused by the blast wave unique to high order explosions
  • Secondary blast: injury due to flying objects or debris displaced by the blast wind
  • Tertiary blast: injury due to displacement through the air or a structure collapse
  • Quaternary blast: all other injuries including crush injuries, burns, radiation, and inhaling toxic substances

To avoid these types of injuries, ensure that you and your co-workers are following Operational procedures, wearing the proper personal protective equipment (PPE), and maintaining chemical safety data sheets for all chemicals.

  1. Violence and other injuries by persons or animals

As much as we’d like to think that fighting at work doesn’t exist, it does happens! Compounding stress and tension can result in an aggressive confrontation from an employee or customer, leading to harassment, intimidation, and even physical assault. Injury caused by animals can also be a concern for commercial fishers, foresters and individuals working on a farm or in other environments where animals, like dogs, are present.

One of the best ways for a worker to avoid workplace violence is to set a zero-tolerance policy covering all individuals who come in contact with company personnel. When working with animals, you can reduce injury by wearing the proper attire, following guidelines set by your employer, and staying alert at all times.

Common causes of work-related fatalities

The “fatal four” work-related fatalities leading to death include:

  • Being struck by a moving vehicle or object / motor vehicle crashes
  • Slips, trips, and falls from tall heights
  • Electrocutions
  • Getting caught in or between machines, devices, or tools

Although you cannot control when an accident occurs, there are steps you can take to reduce work-related injuries and help keep yourself safe.

If you feel or suspect that the safety of yourself or others are at risk, never hesitate to report it to your company.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

We strongly recommend you review your operational procedures in relation to all tasks undertaken on your vessel or in your workplace. Ensure they are clear, conscience and easy to follow.

Secondly it’s vital that you review your emergency procedures relative to your operations to ensure your workers know what to do in the event of an emergency.

Remember, keeping your procedures up to date is a legal requirement under the Work Health and Safety Act and associated Regulations.


Tip

While keeping your procedures up to date is great if workers have not been inducted into procedures relevant to their assigned tasks they are all but useless!

Ensure you induct all workers into procedures relevant to their operations and the best tip we can give you is to have a sign off page for all procedures and have each worker sign off them.

 

Drowning doesn’t mean flailing arms and calling for help.

 

 Knowing these silent signs of drowning can mean the difference between life and death.

 

 This newsletter is not only for those at sea but is critical knowledge for anyone around water anywhere!

 

If two or more people are in the water, which one do you rescue first?

Unfortunately, the fact is that often those watching don’t know what to look for because drowning doesn’t look like drowning.

Do you go first to the person waving their arms and yelling or to the one who is quiet and not waving and yelling?

In most cases you’re going to the person who is NOT waving and yelling!

Read on to discover what you need to look for….

 

To ward off a tragedy in the making, watch for these 8 signs that someone is in trouble!

 

  1. They can’t call for help
    They have to be able to breathe before they can speak. When a person is drowning, their mouth sinks below and reappears above the surface of the water. There isn’t time for them to exhale, inhale, and call out.

  1. They can’t wave for help either.
    A drowning person instinctively extends their arms to the sides and presses down to lift their mouth out of the water; a child may extend their arms forward. They can’t use their arms to wave, move toward a rescuer or reach for rescue equipment.
  1. They remain upright in the water with no evidence of kicking. They can struggle for only 20 to 60 seconds before going under.
  1. Their eyes are glassy and unable to focus or closed.
  1. Their face may be hard to see as their hair may be over their forehead or eyes.
  1. Their Head is low in the water with their mouth at water level and their head may be tilted back with mouth open. A child’s head may fall forward.
  1. They are quiet.
    Children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you need to get to them and find out why.
  1. They don’t seem in distress.
    Sometimes the most important indicator that someone is drowning is that they don’t look like they are drowning. They may just seem to be looking up at the sky, shore or the vessel. Ask them, “Are you all right?” If they can answer at all, they probably are BUT if they return a blank stare, you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

We strongly recommend you and your crew and/or workers if they work around water, know the 8 quite signs of a person drowning AND have up to date CPR training.

By simply knowing these signs allows you to understand the difference between someone who needs immediate help and another who may be able to survive a little longer when there are 2 or more persons in the water.


Tip

When someone is in the water throw anything that floats towards them to help support them until you can rescue them. If there’s a lifebuoy close at hand throw it towards them.

Remember you don’t want this to be the last thing you see of the victim!

Here’s hoping everyone got something out of last week’s issue, and it inspired at least some but hopefully all to check their vessel and workplace fire apparatus and equipment.

To follow on from last week a good starting point is to go back to fire basics and look at the fire triangle which includes Fuel – Heat – Oxygen.

What’s important to remember is if you remove just one of those items you have no fire!

Another point to remember is that a fire can get out of control within seconds and can generate heat in excess of 1,000°C.

This alone should encourage people to take action quickly unless you have some strange underlying desire to suffer serious injury and burns!

Here’s a few of the more common areas where the potential for a fire is quite high.

  1. Engine and/or machinery rooms: leaking fuel or hydraulic/oil lines and bags of rags
  2. The galley or kitchen: oil fires and stoves and other appliances left unattended
  3. Store rooms: paint, grease, oil fires, cardboard/paper fires, etc.
  4. Accommodation areas: mobile phone/tablet/laptop chargers and overloaded power boards

Leaking fuel or hydraulic lines are often the cause of fires in engine and machinery rooms. Fuel or oil leaking onto hot engine components, especially exhausts or turbo chargers is a fire about to happen.

Bags of damp or used rags left in engine or machinery rooms are also a recipe for fire.

The picture below shows a leaking fuel line and a bag of rags, both major causes of fires!.

The answer to these and most other potential fire hazards is regular inspections of fuel and hydraulic/oil lines and ensuring the safe storage and disposal of rags.

Oil fires on stoves are another common cause of fires as is leaving cooking appliances unattended which usually happens when someone calls the cook to help them with something.

Knowing how to use a fire blanket is vital but during training session we deliver unfortunately very few people actually know how to use them to extinguish and mitigate reignition.

Here’s what everyone should know about using fire blankets.

  1. Pull the tabs to remove it from the packet and open the fire blanket
  2. Take hold of the tabs and flick the top over your hands
  3. Approach the fire slowly with the blanket just below your eyes
  4. Place it gently over the fire. DO NOT throw it as this will fan the fire
  5. Then the step that just about everyone misses – turn off the power or gas supply!
  6. Leave it in place for at least 20 – 30 minutes or longer
  7. Remove it using the tabs to slowly slide it back towards you

Note that when you’ve used a fire blanket it cannot be re-used and must be replaced.

We have a major hate in the use of power boards and charging phones, tablets and laptops in accommodation areas.

These are known causes of fires not only onboard vessels but in offices and homes as well.

The picture below shows a power board that’s overheated and was the start of a fire!

People in their bunks get up and inadvertently throw bedding over the item which causes an extra build-up of heat and there’s your fire waiting to happen.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

As per last week’s recommendation and for your safety and the safety of all others and vessel or premises ensure you have a procedure in place and that you undertake regular drills.

Secondly, monitor the use of extension leads and power boards to ensure they are not overload.

And remember, if you take away one side of the triangle (fuel, heat or oxygen) you extinguish the fire!


Tip

It’s a standing rule on the boats we manage, and in our homes that there is no charging of mobile phones, etc. in cabins or bedrooms and it’s a tip for you to follow!

This is a very important question because over the last 12 months we’ve undertaken several Safety Audits both on vessels and in workplaces ashore and conducted multiple onboard training sessions where fire safety was compromised.

How does your fire safety stack up?

Here’s a short list of things we’ve discovered during our Safety Audits and training sessions:

  • Empty fire extinguishers
  • Fire extinguishers not serviced
  • In one case the engine room fire suppression system bottle was empty
  • Air shut offs not functioning. Often these had been painted over during refit
  • Air shut offs with damaged dampeners
  • In another case an air shut off that had a bolt from a fitting located in the vent pipe which prevented the dampener from closing
  • Inoperable fuel shut offs
  • In one case a fuel shut off that had to be accessed through a hole in the deck with a fitting that could not be removed
  • Fire hydrants and/or hoses in disrepair
  • A lack of knowledge on how to deal with a fire, even a minor one!

All of the above put the vessels at risk in the event of a fire onboard, especially in the engine room.

While the above list is based on vessels, many of the items are also relevant to workplaces such as factories, offices, etc.

Fire extinguishers that have been discharged or otherwise become inoperable should never be onboard or in the workplace, they must be serviced when due.

Check the gauge on a regular basis and if it is in the RECHARGE section, get it recharged immediately!

Do you have Dry Chemical extinguishers on your vessel in your workplace?

If yes, ensure you know what class they are as there are two classes for Dry Chemical extinguishers, these are:

ABE Type :

  • Class A Fires – paper, cardboard, wood, fabrics, people etc.
  • Class B Fires – flammable liquid fires, petrol, diesel, oil etc
  • Class E Fires – electrical fires, computers, photocopiers, switchboards etc

 BE Type:

  • Class B Fires – flammable liquid fires, petrol, diesel, oil etc
  • Class E Fires – electrical fires, computers, photocopiers, switchboards etc

Air shut offs that do not fully operate put your vessel at risk. You need to check them for full operation regularly, especially after a refit where painting has been undertaken.

The picture below was supplied by AMSA as an example of a damaged air dampener.

Fuel Shut offs: The location and operation of your fuel shut offs is also critical for your safety in the event of an engine room fire. These should also be checked regularly for effective operation.

The picture below is an example of a cable operated fuel shut off.

Fire hydrants and fire hoses are fitted on many vessels, but we’ve found ‘lay flats” hoses that were in disrepair, one that even feel apart when pulled out!


Shorlink’s Recommendation

For your safety and the safety of your crew, workers and/or clients and vessel or premises ensure you have a procedure in place and that you undertake regular drills.

Secondly, make sure all crew and workers can identify the classes of extinguishers and their specific uses.

Also, it’s critical to your safety that you undertake regular checks of ALL your fire fighting apparatus and equipment to ensure it works when required.


Tip

Best tip for Dry Chemical extinguishers is to turn them upside down and give them a little shake on a regular basis.

The reason for this is that the powder compacts on the bottom of the extinguisher and may not work efficiently or work at all.

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.


Tip

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!

Over the last few years there have been a number of incidents involving electric powered hand tools onboard which have resulted in everything from minor injuries to loss of life.

The use of power tools onboard should be well monitored to ensure the safety of the user and all other persons onboard.

In one incident a young deckhand was using a grinder ended up costing him his life and in another a crew member was lucky to survive when the power socket fell into water causing serious electrical shock.

Another serious incident resulted in loss of life while using a grinder when doing maintenance ashore. While not onboard a vessel at sea it highlights just how dangerous power tools can be.

How can injuries be prevented?

It’s not realistic to think that all incidents can be prevented because accidents do happen at times and that’s a fact!

To reduce the potential for accident to happen safety has to come first: at all times!

This means being fully aware of a number of factors including but not limited to:

  • Identifying the right tool for the job at hand
  • Where power tools are being used (on deck, in the engine room, etc.)
  • The surrounding environment (wet decks, fuel nearby, etc.)
  • Power leads
  • Appropriate PPE

This is a short list of things to consider before using any power tools.

Potential lifesaving failures!

On a number of vessels I’ve observed some simple but potential lifesaving failures that have either been ignored or overlooked. They are…

  1. Vessels with onboard electrical supply are required to have a Residual Current Device (RCD) installed which provides a fast power cut- off in problem situations. A number of vessels didn’t have these fitted putting everyone onboard in danger!

Electrical hazards are often hidden and can be difficult to identify, such as a small hole in an extension lead or a power board damaged internally. Electrical accidents occur in an instant and RCDs are the only device that can protect you and your crew from these hidden dangers and give you a second chance.

Following on from last week’s newsletter, we now focus on surviving Hypothermia ‘in the water’!

No matter if you’re in cold water climates or in tropical areas and you find yourself in the water for any reason you may be alone or if you’re lucky with other people which can be a life saver!

Why a life saver?

It’s not because you have someone to talk to while waiting for help, although that’s part of the good side it’s all about maintaining body temperatures.

Alone in the water can reduce your survival time significantly depending on the water temperature, your condition and health, what you’re wearing, IF you’re wearing a lifejacket and a number of other factors.

But…when in a group your chances of survival increase dramatically but ONLY if you know what to do while you’re waiting for rescue.

Alone in the water

Finding yourself alone in the water can be a traumatic experience especially if you’ve gone overboard during the night.

The sight of the vessel steaming off into the night with the lights slowly getting smaller and smaller is enough to generate trauma in many people.

The major areas of heat loss are:

  1. Groin
  2. Head/neck
  3. Ribcage/armpits

If you’re wearing a lifejacket or have some other buoyant appliance the HELP position protects the body’s three major areas of heat loss.

What is HELP?

HELP stands for Heat Escape Lessening Posture. When you’re alone this position protects the body’s 3 major areas of heat loss. Wearing a lifejacket of PFD allows you to draw your knees to your chest and your arms to your sides.

To get into the HELP position all you need to do is…

 

 

  • Keep your legs together and raise your knees
  • Hold arms against tight against your chest
  • Keep your head out of the water

This position will give you’re the best chance of survival against hypothermia!

Two or more persons

My comment when delivering training is if you’re in the water with two or more people “share the love” and huddle because it improves your survival rate significantly!

Getting into a huddle is not only the best way to protect against hypothermia but it also gives you the best chance of being seen by rescuers.

How to HUDDLE!

 

 

  • Press the sides of the chests and lower torso together
  • Hug around the lifejackets
  • Intertwine legs as much as possible; and
  • Talk to one another!

Huddling with other people in the water lessens the loss of body heat and is good for morale and also allows rescuers to spot you easier.

Try not to separate as this will allow body temperatures to start falling quickly.

Consider this…

While progressive loss of body heat can result in loss of consciousness and death, many victims perish much sooner when immersed suddenly in cold water. Cold shock can affect some, causing cardiac failure within a few minutes.

Increased breathing rates can lead to dizziness, and the muscles cool rapidly. Immersion in cold water can cause such rapid loss of muscular function that in minutes a person loses the strength to board a raft or even operate a flare.

A fit person in these circumstances quickly loses the ability to make even basic movements to help keep themselves afloat. There have been many recorded cases of drowning in less than 10 minutes – long before the body core temperature has started to drop or the person is affected by hypothermia.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

It’s vital for all crew to know these 2 lifesaving positions and how they help in extending not only their survival time but also for others in the water with them.

If you’re working on a vessel that carries passengers it’s the responsibility of ALL crew members to know how to deal with emergency situations including hypothermia!


Tip

Next time you’re in the water try both of these lifesaving positions and get familiar with them so as if for any reason you find yourself in the water you know how to survive!

Also…it’s imperative that treatment be sought as soon as is possible for any person suffering from hypothermia as death may follow unless correct treatment is provided immediately!

National Safe Boating Week (NSBW) is a safety initiative of Australia New Zealand Safe Boating Education Group (ANZSBEG).

The aim of NSBW is to increase safer boating practices and promote responsible boat ownership for commercial and recreational use.

Whenever you are on the water everybody has a responsibility to ensure the safe operation of their boats and come home unharmed to their loved ones.

 NSBW for 2021 has three themes:

  1. Maintenance

Maintenance is a critical part of boat ownership and ALL vessel need regular maintenance, servicing and safety checks. Vessel breakdowns and equipment failures can and do put your life and the lives of everyone onboard at risk of serious injury and even death!

Make sure you keep your maintenance and servicing up to date at all times and…don’t forget to record both scheduled maintenance and any repairs and/or maintenance due to breakdowns or equipment failure.

  1. Safety Equipment

At all times you must be prepared for an emergency situation by having the correct safety equipment onboard and in service where required. As for your vessel, safety gear must be maintained and should at all times be stowed so as it’s easily accessible in an emergency.

Having safety equipment that is damaged and/or not in service puts everyone onboard in danger in the event of an emergency. Remember nobody schedules an emergency such as a fire, sinking or person falling overboard…they happen suddenly and usually in bad weather!

  1. Lifejackets

When emergency situations arise, there is rarely time to grab a lifejacket let alone put one on so it’s critical they are stowed in an easy to get at location because…if you need it you need it NOW!

Something we try to communicate during our training sessions is that a lifejacket only works when you are wearing it. If you find yourself in the water due to the loss of a vessel you’re more likely to survive if you are wearing a lifejacket.

October is also National Safe Work Month

In conjunction with Safe Work Australia, we ask that business owners, workers and employers across Australia commit to safe and healthy workplaces for all Australians. No job should be unsafe, and no death or injury is acceptable. A safe and healthy workplace benefits everyone.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

Today we have 3 recommendations…

  1. Ensure your maintenance is up to date at all times. Take the time now or before you go out to check over all motors, other machinery and associated equipment and…remember to record your checks and maintenance.
  2. Check all of your safety equipment including lifesaving appliances and firefighting equipment and do it NOW to ensure it’s ready to go when needed.
  3. Ensure your lifejackets are easily accessible and are in good condition. Make sure they are dry with no damage including broken straps or buckles with the whistle attached and the light is in date.

Tip

The best tip I can give you to ensure all of your safety equipment is easy to get to in an emergency. Lifejackets are no good if stowed in an area that access can easily be cut off and fire extinguishers that are stowed in a locker with other gear all around them escalates the potential for a major fire.

Take your life and the lives of all those onboard seriously and while we hope you will not need any of the safety gear but if you do you need it immediately so make sure you have easy access to all your safety gear.

Remember, if you need assistance or advice with your safety gear don’t hesitate to contact us by…

Email: sms@shorlink.com         Phone: 07 4242 1412     Web: www.shorlink.com

Did you know that although you may live in a warm climate or tropical area you can still become a victim of hypothermia?

I often hear comments like: “I work in Northern Queensland waters, so hypothermia is not a problem for me!”

 

The truth is that it still is a problem and it’s even worse because many people continue to believe that in warm climates hypothermia is not a problem if you’re in the water.

In simple terms if the water you’re in or even air that has a lower temperature than your body you can suffer from hypothermia.

Consider your body temperature in normal conditions is around 37°C and you go overboard in water with a temperature of 23°C which is common in warmer climate zones.

Your body will immediately start to adjust to the external (water or air) temperature which means it’s going to drop significantly and…in a short time!

If you’re in the water for even a short time then hypothermia is going to start developing.

 

Knowing how to identify the symptoms of hypothermia is a vital part of survival at sea and in the preservation of life.

In water with a temperature of 21°C to 26°C the expected time before exhaustion or unconsciousness is between 3 to 12 hours depending on the individual. The expected time of survival is anywhere from 3 hours to indefinite.

If the water temperature is 10°C to 15°C the expected time before exhaustion or unconsciousness is between 1 to 2 hours with an expected survival time of between 1 to 6 hours!

So…as part of your survival you and all crew members need to know how to identify the symptoms of hypothermia because it may be your life that is saved.

Hypothermia Symptoms

We break up the symptoms into two categories…

  1. Mild hypothermia; and
  2. Moderate to severe hypothermia

Mild Hypothermia Symptoms

Symptoms for mild hypothermia include…

  • Shivering
  • Dizziness
  • Hunger
  • Nausea
  • Faster breathing
  • Trouble speaking
  • Slight confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Increased heart rate

Moderate to Severe Hypothermia Symptoms

  • Shivering, although as hypothermia worsens shivering stops
  • Clumsiness or lack of coordination
  • Slurred speech or mumbling
  • Confusion and poor decision making such as trying to remove warm clothes
  • Drowsiness or very low energy
  • Lack of concern about one’s condition
  • Weak pulse
  • Slow, shallow breathing

What about hypothermia in children?

Charter and passenger vessels often have children onboard as passengers there anyone operating on these vessels should also be able to identify hypothermia in children. The symptoms include…

  • Bright red, cold skin
  • Very low energy
  • A weak cry

Shorlink’s Recommendation

If you don’t know the signs of hypothermia developing you may be witnessing death in the making because hypothermia can kill in 6 minutes!

My recommendation is to not only know but also understand the signs of hypothermia and how to deal with anyone suffering from it.

Remember hypothermia increases blood to the brain and alters your judgement so…be on guard at all times, even on hot summer days.


Tip

Hypothermia is not limited to being in the water, it can be an issue for those working in cold climates on deck or ashore. It can even impact people in freezer rooms if not wearing the appropriate PPE!

My best tip is to ensure you wear the right clothing and have the appropriate PPE for the conditions you are working in!

What most operators don’t realise is that there is a requirement to have a Medical Log Book onboard your vessel to record medical information including the dispensing of drugs.

The NSCV Part C7A H8 specifies that all vessels shall carry and record the use of all medicines, first aid and medical incidents in a Medical Log Book and record the stock movements for Controlled Drugs in a Controlled Drug Register.

To date AMSA have not been pushing Medical Log Books other than on larger vessels but I’m guessing that this is another area that is going to surface in the near future, especially on passenger and charter vessels!

If you operate passenger or charter vessels you should consider getting a Medical Log Book in place sooner rather than later.

Other vessels that should be getting one together are commercial fishing vessels and vessels engaged in construction or towage and in particular those that undertake long voyages.

Medical Supplies: Things to consider

When considering your requirements for medical supplies you need to take into account the tables specified in C7A. Now there are more flexible rules for first aid supplies on DCV’s.

The owner/master of a domestic commercial vessel (DCV) 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 on board the vessel for that operation.

Please note that the first aid kit must also comply with the Work Health and Safety Code of Practice. If necessary, assistance may be sought from an appropriately experienced pharmaceutical provider or First Aid provider/supplier in order to do so.

Based on your risk assessment you may apply for and Equivalent Solution. A few questions that you need to take into account when conducting your risk assessment…

  • Is your operation considered high risk in the WHS code of practice?
  • Do you have crew with current First Aid qualifications onboard ALL the time?
  • Are you operating more than two hours from medical assistance?
  • Based on your operations are persons on board likely to encounter specific hazards e.g., burns, stings, cuts and abrasions, etc.?

These are just a few of the things you need to take into account when undertaking your risk assessment. If you need help with completing a risk assessment for your First Aid requirements don’t hesitate to contact Shorlink or request First Aid Risk Assessment sheet.

What’s required in a Medical Log Book

There are specific requirements for a Medical Log Book which include:

  • Date
  • Time
  • Patient
  • Condition
  • Treatment

If you carry Controlled Drugs your Controlled Drugs Register should include:

  • Supply
  • Use
  • Disposal
  • Loss
  • Theft

While all of this may seem a bit daunting it’s really not too bad if you have the right layout in your log book and register.

First Aid Kits and Medical Cabinets

There are also a number of other considerations in relation to First Aid Kits and Medical Cabinets which includes…

  • Location
  • Construction and provisions
  • Labelling and identification
  • Construction and illumination for Medical Cabinets
  • Maintenance for Medical Cabinets

Shorlink’s Recommendation

The one thing that we see so often is OUT OF DATE First Aid certificates which means that person may not be up to date with the latest First Aid knowledge and skills. We strongly recommend that you ensure your First Aid is current.

 

 

For vessels with more than two crew we recommend at least one other crew member has current First Aid training. This takes the pressure off the Master in the event of an incident where injuries are sustained.

 


Tip

If you think you can have a case for an Equivalent Solution then do a risk assessment on your operations or if you need assistance in doing one then contact our office. We can assess your situation and develop a risk assessment for you.

Need a Medical Log book then look no further as Shorlink has them available and they meet all the legal requirements.Medical Stores Log Book