Barges play an important role in this economy, but the workers on them face serious risks each time they get on the boats. Keeping these risks minimized increases safety for these workers.
The risks on barges range from wet conditions and choppy waters to heavy equipment used in the loading, unloading and movement of cargo. Here are some methods for employers and workers to improve barge safety:
The nature of the barge environment makes this a hazardous workplace. Keeping the deck clean and free of hazards can prevent slips and trips. Deck workers should wear non-slip shoes that are made for a wet environment. The deck surface should have a non-skid protective compound to offer even more protection from slips. Any holes in the deck should be clearly marked to prevent falls through the deck.
Ladder and stair safety
Ladders and stairs require extra care. Always hold the rails when going up and down stairs. Maintain contact with three limbs when you are going up and down on a ladder. At all times, you should have two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot on the ladder. Stairs, railings and ladders should all be in good condition. Since stairs and ladders are likely metal, avoid electrical lines and energized spaces.
All machines and equipment must be treated with respect. Safety checks before each use are crucial for all equipment. Employees should be trained to use equipment safely. Crane and hoist operators should watch what is going on above and below the equipment to avoid accidents.
Lines and cables under tension
Lines and cables on a barge might be under tension. This includes times when a winch is used. If one of these lines or cables snaps, there is a risk of an amputation injury, so stay off the deck or away from the deck unless you have a vital job to do. Even if you have to remain on deck, stay out of the 15-degree danger zone that is on either side of a line under tension.
Risk of going overboard
Going overboard can be fatal. Stay away from the perimeter of the barge, especially where safety rails aren’t present. Wear a life preserver and have a life ring or other similar device handy in case someone goes overboard. All employees on the barge should know the established procedures for what is done when a someone falls overboard. Man overboard drills must occur on a regular basis.
Barge workers who are injured might have to wait for appropriate medical care. This can pose an additional risk to the worker, especially when more than just basic first aid is needed. Ultimately, injured barge workers might have to miss work while they recover.