Shipping is perhaps the most international of all the world’s great industries – and one of the most dangerous. It has always been recognized that the best way of improving safety at sea is by developing international regulations that are followed by all shipping nations.
IMO’s first task when it came into being in 1959 was to adopt a new version of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), the most important of all treaties dealing with maritime safety.
IMO has also developed and adopted international collision regulations and global standards for seafarers, as well as international conventions and codes relating to search and rescue, the facilitation of international maritime traffic, load lines, the carriage of dangerous goods and tonnage measurement.
Safety of self and co-workers is the prime priority kept in mind by a professional seafarer while working onboard ship. All shipping companies ensure that their crew follow personal safety procedures and rules for all the operation carried onboard ships.
To achieve utmost safety on board ship, the basic step is to make sure that everybody wears their personal protective equipments made for different types of jobs carried out on ship.
Following are the basic personal protective equipments that are always present onboard a ship to ensure safety of the working crew :
1). Protective Clothing : Protective clothing is a coverall which protects the body of the crew member from hazardous substance like hot oil, water, welding spark etc. It is popularly known as “dangri “or “boiler suit”.
2). Helmet : The most important part of the human body is the head. It needs utmost protection which is provided by a hard plastic helmet on the ship. A chin strap is also provided with the helmet which keeps the helmet on place when there is a trip or fall.
3). Safety Shoes : Maximum of the internal space of the ship is utilized by cargo and machinery, which is made of hard metal and which make it clumsy for crew to walk around. Safety shoes ensure that nothing happens to the crew member’s feet while working or walking onboard.
4). Safety Hand gloves : Different types of hand gloves are provided onboard ship. All these are used in operations wherein it becomes imperative to protect ones hands. Some of the gloves provided are heat resistant gloves to work on hot surface, cotton gloves for normal operation, welding gloves, chemical gloves etc.
5). Goggles : Eyes are the most sensitive part of the human body and in daily operations on ship chances are very high for having an eye injury. Protective glass or goggles are used for eye protection, whereas welding goggles are used for welding operation which protects the eyes from high intensity spark.
6). Ear Muff/plug : Engine room of the ship produces 110-120 db of sound which is very high for human ears. Even few minutes of exposure can lead to head ache, irritation and sometimes partial or full hearing loss. An ear muff or ear plug is used on board ship which dampens the noise to a bearable decibel value.
7). Safety harness : Routine ship operation includes maintenance and painting of high and elevated surfaces which require crew members to reach areas that are not easily accessible. To avoid a fall from such heightened area, safety harness is used. Safety harness is donned by the operator at one end and tied at a strong point on the other end.
8). Face mask : Working on insulation surface, painting or carbon cleaning involves minor hazardous particles which are harmful for human body if inhaled directly. To avoid this, face mask are provided which acts as shield from hazardous particle.
9). Chemical suit : Use of chemicals onboard ship is very frequent and some chemicals are very dangerous when they come in direct contact with human skin. A chemical suit is worn to avoid such situations.
10). Welding shield : Welding is a very common operation onboard ship for structural repairs. A welder is provided with welding shield or mask which protects the eyes from coming in direct contact with ultraviolet rays of the spark of the weld.
The Use of Personal Protective Equipment on Board Ships.
Personal protective equipment is a common name for respiratory protection, eye protection, gloves, special working clothes (e.g. protective clothing, thermal suits, and waterproof clothes), ear protectors, different forms of safety shoes or rubber boots (protection footwear), safety helmets, protection against falls etc.
You must use personal protective equipment in order to protect yourself from a risk that may threaten your safety or health when working. In this folder you may read about what personal protective equipment is, when to use it, how to use it, what demands to make on it, and whose responsibility it is to make it available to you.
When Do You Use the Personal Protective Equipment?
It is important to point out that the use of personal protective equipment is your last way out when solving problems with the working environment.
If the work on board cannot at all stages be performed and organized so as to ensure safe and healthy working conditions, it shall be ensured that the work can only be performed if personal protective equipment is used.
Consequently, you have to solve the problems in other ways, e.g. by :
• establishing local exhaustion when working with harmful substances and materials on permanent workplaces and
• taking technical steps to reduce the noise.
Only if this is not possible, personal protective equipment must be used to protect against a possible risk at work.
A Risk Assessment of the Workplace Helps Finding the Risk.
A risk assessment of the work must always be carried out in order to ascertain if your safety or health is at stake – and how this risk may be removed in the best possible way.
The risk assessment of the workplace must be in writing, if the working process is considered as particularly dangerous or unhealthy. The owner or the master/skipper must carry out the risk assessment of the workplace together with the employees. If the ship has a safety organization, it shall participate in the work of assessing the risk of the workplace.
Your Duties and those of the Owner.
The owner must place at your disposal the personal protective equipment and see to it that you are instructed in the proper use of it. The owner must pay the expenses in connection with the purchase, maintenance, and cleaning. It is your duty to use the personal protective equipment you have received, from the moment you start working and for as long as you work. At the same time you must assist in making the equipment work according to the purpose. If you find defects you must report it to your supervisor, the master/skipper, or the owner.
Design, Maintenance, Storage, and Signs.
Personal protective equipment must, of course, protect you against unwanted exposures. Furthermore, it must be designed to fit you and the work you are performing. To fulfil these requirements it is necessary that you know the work and know what you are protecting yourself against – and you must know the limitations of the protective equipment. Maintenance, storage, cleaning, and testing must be according to the specifications of the manufacturer.
Signs must be placed where it is necessary to use personal protective equipment on board the ship telling you what kind – and possibly what type – of protective equipment to use.
Time Limitations at Use.
The use of personal protective equipment may involve physical or mental strain or inconvenience when used during a long period. Therefore, your work must be planned in such a way that this is taken into consideration. This is particularly true when applying respiratory protection. Filtering devices must not be used for more than 3 hours in a workday. If the work lasts more that 3 hours, a power assisted filtering device or a breathing apparatus must be used already before starting to work. Power assisted filtering devices and breathing apparatus must not be used for more than 6 hours in a workday. If the work is particularly demanding, breaks must be taken. The breaks must have a length and a frequency that take into consideration your workload and your inconveniences.