Establishing Vessel & Shipyard Safety Procedures and Communication Channels

Vessel Safety

Know Your Vessel
Avoid mechanical breakdowns by keeping your vessel well tuned and by planning ahead. Ensure a regular maintenance program for your vessel, familiarize yourself with basic mechanical procedures, and always carry adequate safety equipment and spare parts aboard. This may not only save you time and money, but it could also save your life.
Sometimes mechanical breakdowns are unavoidable. Fortunately, the majority of them are minor ones which can easily be fixed if you carry the following: 

Spare Parts
Spark plugs, fuses
Fan belt
Spare fuel line
Shear and cotter pins
Spare battery
Hose clamps
Oil and grease
Electrical tape
Adjustable wrench
Socket set
Spark plug wrench
Screwdriver set
Slipjoint pliers
Needle nose pliers


Service Recommendations
A well tuned vessel requires a regular maintenance program. Here are some suggested service procedures for engines operating less than 25 hours per week. Extensive use will require more servicing.
Note: This is only a guideline. Certain service procedures may be necessary for different engines. Refer to your engine manual for complete details.

Pre-Season Recommendations:
•    Ensure battery is fully-charged/holding charge.
•    Top up fluid levels.
•    Replace lower unit oil (if not performed during post-season service.)
•    Inspect, clean, and replace spark plugs, if necessary.
•    Check and change filters (fuel filter, water separation filter), if necessary.
•    Check all systems: electrical, fuel, propulsion, and cooling.
•    Check wire and cable terminals for tightness, dirt, and corrosion.
•    Check that throttle connections are secure.
•    Check all hoses/lines for leaks or cracks and replace, if necessary.
•    Inspect and clean flame arrestor with soap and water (gasoline inboard engines only). 

Mid-Season Recommendations:
•    Review all pre-season checks.
•    Inspect lower unit oil for water contamination and replace oil and seal, if necessary.
•    Tighten all connections, screws, and bolts throughout boat and motor.
•    Check condition of spark plugs and, if necessary, adjust fuel-oil mixture on carburetor.
•    Check propeller condition. 

Post-Season/Wintering Recommendations:
•    Disconnect fuel line and burn off excess fuel in carburetor (gasoline engines).
•    Winterize engine block with anti-corrosive spray (optional).
•    Drain and replace lower unit oil.
•    Completely drain all water from cooling system.
•    Seal exhaust outlets and carburetor intake with netting to safeguard against foreign objects (i.e. animals).
•    Disconnect battery and store above freezing temperatures.
•    Check propeller for damage. 

Trouble Shooting Tips
Most mechanical breakdowns are minor and can be easily repaired without the aid of rescuers. In the case of a vessel malfunction, here are a few trouble shooting tips:
If the engine fails to start:
•    Check fuel supply.
•    Make sure shift lever is in the neutral position.
•    Throttle up a little and try again.
•    Check battery. If it is very weak, use your replacement battery on board.
•    Check cables and terminals for poor connections; look for corrosion.
•    Check and replace fuses, if necessary: ignition system fuse and starter fuse.
•    Replace fuel filter.
•    Check for proper choke operation
If the motor is flooded:
•    Push throttle-lever to mid-full open position and try starting (cautiously).
•    Check choke position.
If the motor overheats:
•    Shut off motor immediately.
•    Check the belts and hoses and replace if broken.
•    Re-start the motor and check for a steady flow of water discharge from the backside of the motor.
•    Check for blockage of the water intake/discharge.
•    Check for proper adjustment of the water pump drive belt.
If the engine-lower unit fails to drop into position:
Manual system:
•    Ensure that manual trailering lever has been released.
Electrical hydraulic system:
•    Check fuses for hydraulic pump motor.
•    Check hydraulic pump fluid.
This is a suggested trouble shooting guide. It may be helpful in solving minor mechanical problems; however, by no means is it complete. Refer to your vessel owner's manual, your dealer, or qualified mechanic for complete details. If and when a mechanical problem occurs, make sure your vessel is inspected and the proper repairs are made upon return to shore.

Shipyard safety
The shipyard work environment can often be very complex, including work on every kind of vessel from small fishing vessels to military vehicles. Each ship may have less than 100 to 5,000 people working on it. The work itself can often potentially be very dangerous, and workers are often exposed to hazardous weather conditions. It is for these reasons and more that OSHA has prepared guidelines for shipyard safety.
Those in shipyards may work on many types of ships, including small fishing vessels, cargo carriers, tankers, barges, and military ships. The work may involve demolition, electrical work, maintenance, new ship construction, and repair. The work can include fabrication and forming of large steel plates, beams, and pipes, sheet metal work, electrical work, painting and coating, work on propulsion systems, and numerous other tasks. Welding may also be involved. This involves grinding and chipping of welds. Workers often work outdoors and are exposed to harsh weather. 

A shipyard may have between 100 and 5,000 people working in it, depending on whether it is small or large, and often involves work in the ship, yard, or shop. Fabrication is like manufacturing work.
The work can lead to numbness tingling, pain, restricted joint movement, soft tissue swelling, and recurring shoulder pain (rotor cuff tendonitis). Shipyard workers often have strains and sprains in their lower back, and hand-arm vibration syndrome, for those use vibrating tools.
Causes for these physical problems can be intensive work, static body positions for long times, genetic causes, age, gender, and cold temperatures. Intensive work done outside the work environment may contribute to the injuries as well.
OSHA has visited shipyards that has implemented solutions to these problems and achieved success in reducing such injuries, helping to make the workplace safer. 

A Process for Protecting Employees
OSHA has found the number of injuries and their severity, from overexertion, and financial costs, at shipyards may be reduced substantially. OSHA suggests employers systematically address ergonomic issues in the workplace in their individual safety and health programs.
OSHA suggests employers consider the general steps recommended by OHSA in their ergonomic program, but it is recognized each shipyard will have different needs and limitations. Different programs and activities may be implemented, and employees from many departments may help provide for workplace safety at a shipyard.
To be successful, any ergonomic program must have strong management backing. OSHA suggests shipyards have clear goals and objectives for such a program, discuss them with employees, assign duties to designated employees to reach the goals, and give feedback to employees. For a program to succeed there must be sustained effort, coordinated activities, and necessary resources available.
The ergonomics program at many shipyards has also involved "lean manufacturing," and "Five S" strategies that focus on providing the right material, at the right time, to the right place, in the proper manner. This has helped eliminate "wasted walking," or "wasted motion," to retrieve parts. Ergonomics fits well with these strategies. Such things as wasted walking and wasted motion can diminish work performance and increase injuries

Implementing Solutions
Ergonomics solutions for shipyards includes changes to equipment, work practices, and procedures that address risk factors, help control costs, and reduce employee turnover. Changes can also increase employee productivity and efficiency, as unnecessary movements and heavy manual labor are reduced. OSHA suggests employers use engineering controls, when feasible, in dealing with ergonomics. The first set of solutions is applicable in most or all areas of the shipyard.
Recommended solutions have already been implemented in some shipyards. These solutions will not cover all ergonomic factors shipyards face. These solutions are not applicable to each and every shipyard. Implementing ergonomic solutions may present challenges to shipyards. There may be increased work in cramped areas or outdoors. Shipyard personnel are encouraged to use these examples, however. From them, develop innovative solutions to the ergonomic problems in your shipyard. Solutions are categorized according to the jobs in which they are most often performed: site-wide, material equipment or handling, tools, metal work, shipside, and Personal Protection Safety Equipment







Communication Channels
Radio Use 

The operator by law, must be familiar with and adhere to the provisions of the Federal Communications Commission. Although possession of the Rules and Regulations is not required, they may be obtained from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402.
Safety is the primary function of a radiotelephone aboard a boat.
At a minimum, you should: 

1.    MAINTAIN A WATCH while the radio is turned on, even though you are not communicating. Monitoring the Calling and Distress Channel 16 (2182 kHz SSB) is compulsory when the set is on and you are not communicating on another channel.
2.    CHOOSE THE CORRECT CHANNEL when communicating either ship-to-ship or ship-to-shore.
3.    LIMIT THE PRELIMINARY CALL to 30 seconds. If there is no answer, you must wait 2 minutes before repeating the call.
4.    LIMIT SHIP-TO-SHIP CONVERSATIONS TO THREE MINUTES and the content to ship's business. Be considerate of others, they may want to use the line.
5.    REMEMBER THAT PUBLIC CORRESPONDENCE HAS NO TIME LIMIT (private telephone calls) -The caller is paying the toll.
6.    NEVER USE PROFANE OR OBSCENE LANGUAGE or transmit fraudulent messages. Penalties include fines up to $10,000 or imprisonment or both.
7.    AVOID RADIO CHECKS as most are unnecessary. Do not call the US Coast Guard. If a check is really necessary, call a vessel that you know is listening. Radio checks are prohibited on Channel 16.

Logs: It is no longer necessary to keep a log of station operations. The operator may, however, keep a record of any distress or emergency traffic he hears or participates in along with a record of maintenance performed on the equipment.
Calling Procedure: The calling procedure has been developed in the interest of brevity. Calls are initiated on the Calling and Distress Frequency (Channel 16). If there is no traffic, begin by calling the name of the boat three times, followed by your boat name and its call sign. 

Distress and Safety Calls
In an emergency as part of the marine safety and communication system, you have help on Channel 16 at your fingertips wherever you may be. Emergency situations can be categorized as distress, urgency and safety. The signals for these calls and their descriptions follow:
Distress: "MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY." This is the International Distress Signal and is an imperative call for assistance. It is used only when a life or vessel is in immediate danger.
Urgency: "PAN-PAN, PAN-PAN, PAN-PAN" (PAHN PAHN). This in the International Urgency Signal and is used when a vessel or person is in some jeopardy of a degree less than would be indicated by Mayday.
Safety: "SECURITY, SECURITY, SECURITY" (SAY-CURE-IT-TAY). This is the International Safety Signal and is a message about some aspect of navigational safety or a weather warning. 

Most boaters never have the need to make a distress call but all should be familiar with the proper procedure. WHEN YOU NEED IT THERE WILL NOT BE TIME TO LEARN IT. A "MAYDAY" situation is usually a hectic one, so having a Distress Communication Form partially completed and readily available is a great aid in making an organized distress call. The blanks on the form can be completed in compliance with your vessel data and posted near the radio telephone.

For Urgency (Pan pan) calls, a format similar to the "Mayday" signal can be used. Safety (Security) messages inform other boaters of abnormal situations relative to safe operation and are the lowest priority of the emergency situations.
Distress calls are initiated on Channel 16 because they should be heard by many boats, as well as the Coast Guard and other shore stations within range. If you receive a distress call, cease all transmission. All vessels having knowledge of distress traffic, and which cannot themselves assist, are forbidden to transmit on the frequency of the distress traffic. They should, however, listen and follow the situation until it is evident that assistance is being provided. Transmitting may resume after hearing an "all clear" (Silence Fini).
"Over and Out" 

The most commonly misused procedure words are "Over and Out." "Over" means that you expect a reply. "Out" means you are finished and do not expect a reply. It is contradictory to say "Over and Out."

Radio Abuse
VHF marine radio is a vital communications link for the boating community and abuse of the radio seriously affects the safety of all boaters. There are FCC monitoring stations which, along with the Coast Guard, are alert for understandable language and correct operation of marine stations. Sophisticated equipment provides for tracking violators through "voice prints" of transmissions made on the radio. 

Willful or repeat violators may receive a "Notice of Violation" citations, and be fined up to $2,000. The following will improve your radio communications:

•    Marine Radio is not Citizens Band (CB), so watch your talk afloat. Phrases such as "Hey Good Buddy," "Bring That Back," "I Copy," and "That's a Big 10-4," are not only frowned upon by the authorities, but are illegal.
•    Always use FCC call signals at the beginning and the end of all transmissions.
•    Maintain radio watch on Channel 16, and use it only for emergency and calling purposes.
•    Switch to one of the working channels for messages. Typically, these are 68, 69, 71, 72 and 78.
•    Use low power (1 watt) whenever possible.