Ship voyages can be very fun and exciting, but at the same time, they also involve some serious and scary dangers. Marine accidents are pretty standard when following proper safety procedures could have helped prevent them in the first place. To reduce injuries and other similar hazards during sea voyages, it’s essential to take appropriate precautions.
Aside from the mandatory safety regulations issued by the IMO for all ships that also cover the safety equipment that they should carry for personnel protection, there are more safety measures that seafarers should observe and follow to guarantee personal safety on the ship.
Maritime safety refers to protecting the passengers and crew aboard vessels and those that work or live near bodies of water, ranging from the risk and hazards of injury or fatality.
Personal safety mainly includes the different means and ways seafarers can adopt to remain safe on an individual level, including steady heavy cargo handling, careful movement around the ship, and more. Aside from these, personal safety on ships also involves the suitable use of all safety equipment.
The following are several of the top ten maritime safety tips every seafarer should know:
1. Proper Placement and Use of Tools
Both hands should always be used when carrying portable equipment and tools. Every time a seafarer climbs or descends a staircase, a tool belt, if available, should be used when taking the equipment. It can also be carried across the body so the hands remain free, ensuring a firm and secure grip.
Meanwhile, portable power tools like welding equipment and drills must be carefully checked before using them; only professionals are recommended to operate them.
Safety guards must also be set up as necessary before any work ensues. This is critical since live wires can cause shock and sparking that may result in fires onboard. Firefighting tools and equipment, such as portable fire extinguishers, should also be handy and accessible in emergencies.
2. Fit for Duty
Seafarers have the responsibility to be fit for duty for the sake of their crewmates and the ship as a whole. It is required to stay sober and physically healthy and to learn all the essential skills relevant to the duties.
Although seafarers are some of the most challenging people you can ever meet, they are expected to report injuries and other concerns that may affect the safe execution of their respective jobs. Lack of training, fatigue, illness, and intoxication can increase the risk of more severe injuries.
Mooring refers to anchoring the ship to the docks using equipment, including deadweight anchors, chains, cables, ropes, etc. During the procedure, all passengers should be safe from the mooring location.
Ropes exposed to significant strain when mooring cargo and goods risk breaking and causing damage. Mooring should only begin after the whole area is cleared.
4. Movement Around the Ships
All containers on ships that carry heavy cargo must be securely and adequately tied all the time. These may move or dislocate during the ship’s sudden lurches if not connected correctly, resulting in significant and severe bodily harm.
It’s also critical to always stay on alert on open hatches, slippery patches, or unguarded railings where people might fall by accident. When walking across the ship during rough weather conditions, following the mantra “one hand to the ship” is mandatory to avoid getting thrown overboard.
5. Personal Protective Equipment
Personal protective equipment includes safety helmets, goggles, shoes, life jackets, safety harnesses, ear muffs, life rafts, and more. The primary purpose of PPE is to keep individual seafarers safe and protected from most forms of harm.
Personal protective equipment is compulsory for all ships to guarantee that no fatalities occur because of the absence of lifesaving appliances. The ship crew must also be aware of and familiar with the location of the equipment. They must also have the necessary training to use all devices properly.
Additional essential requirements are dust masks, especially during the servicing of the ship or working in a toxic atmosphere. All of these equipment require regular checking to ensure their proper function and confirm whether they need replacement.
6. Safety Equipment for the Crew
Aside from the personal life-saving devices used on board ships, the entire crew also needs safety equipment, including breathing devices and fire suits, fire extinguishers, lifeboats, and distress signals to summon help and emergency medical equipment.
The operating crew also requires proper training in the use of communication equipment with the necessary awareness of all essential protocols. Regular checking of the communication equipment is also needed to ensure that everything works fine.
7. Familiarize and Follow Safety Procedures
Join in the training and update all safety certifications. Seafarers should also wear the appropriate protective gear for their duties aboard, such as shoes, helmets, goggles, and safety harnesses. They must also establish a culture of trust and safety with their coworkers by alerting one another to any danger and applying proper first aid in response to any maritime injury.
8. Observe Situational Awareness
It’s critical to be aware of your surroundings as far as maritime safety is concerned. Seafarers should always maintain good visibility and pay close attention to equipment that moves or lifts cargo. They are also expected to immediately report any issues to the safety officer or captain. These include unsafe conditions, spills, electrical malfunctions, or mechanical breakdowns.
9. Steady Handling of Dangerous Cargo
It’s common for ship cargo to contain highly flammable fuels and other similar hazardous materials. These cargoes must be kept at a safe distance away from the passengers. All seafarers are expected to follow safety instructions.
The cargo should also be segregated and labeled depending on its nature. Containers must also regularly check for leaks and spills, which can pose serious hazards.
Goods onboard the ship are also at risk of falling or moving if not kept securely and adequately, with passengers getting hurt. These cargoes should be tied securely and stashed low to prevent untoward incidents.
10. Food Safety
One of the most essential things that can help ensure the good health and well-being of everyone on board is safe and proper food handling. Food safety is critical to prevent food-related issues while on board ships. It’s also crucial to source safe and wholesome water and food.
Even though well-maintained and clean catering areas can give a great impression, there is more to food safety than cleanliness alone. It also involves good working practices according to food and personal hygiene principles. This covers proper temperature control and separating cooked and raw foods.
Every seafarer must be more than ready for their trip and have their safety and protection considered and planned well. Being out in the water for an extended period requires intensive and thorough preparation to ensure a seafarer stays safe and healthy.
Seafarers must organize and prepare suitable and necessary health protection before their voyage, such as the medication and vaccines they need for the trip. During the travel, there are also many things that seafarers should do to protect themselves from all forms and manners of harm.
A ship will only be safe if its crew is safe and sound, too. This is why seafarers must prioritize their safety, follow the rules, and take the necessary precautions when boarding a ship.