9 Golden Safety Rules: Their aim

Paramount high-level rules to prevent loss of life or life changing injuries have been developed across different industries, such as the International association of Oil & Gas Producers (IOGP), several Oil Majors and Lloyds Register.

In fact, records from one Oil Major shows a reduction in fatalities of 75% and serious Injuries by almost 50% over a 5-year period.

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Considering these facts, the maritime industry can benefit from similar guidance. The ‘Together in Safety’ initiative recognized this necessity, and is focusing on developing the industry’s Golden Safety Rules. The proposed rules recognize the wider industry data of the key incident types responsible for most fatalities.

Their goal is to make everybody in the shipping industry understand, commit to, introduce and follow them. Most of these are not new and the majority of them are well known, but perhaps not in any specific context of being critical to saving lives.

So, what are these golden Safety Rules. Well, there are 9 of them and you can see them below:

1. Enclosed Space Entry

Only enter an enclosed space if it has been ventilated and the atmosphere confirmed safe.

You must ALWAYS:

  • Check if a Permit is required; obtain authorization and comply;
  • Verify that the atmosphere has been tested and made safe and confirm what and when re-testing is required;
  • Challenge the testing: ask when and where it was completed, by whom, and what materials / substances were in the space;
  • Confirm that all energy, machinery and fluids and gases have been isolated and locked-out;
  • Verify that the atmosphere of the space will not be affected by adjacent activities;
  • Agree an appropriate rescue plan with your co-workers before entry, including watchman.

You must NEVER:

  • Work in an enclosed space if you can complete the task in a safer way;
  • Enter an enclosed space without fully understanding the hazards present and being satisfied it is safe;
  • Enter an enclosed space alone;
  • Deviate from the agreed safety or emergency procedures.

Commenting on this issue during the latest SAFETY4SEA Athens Forum, shipping experts highlighted that the sector does not need more regulation, but a more thorough understanding of the current regulations and a more efficient safety culture to implement the existing regulatory framework, especially when it comes to enclosed space entry.

Moreover, in a recent article written for SAFETY4SEA, Capt. Kuba Szymanski, Secretary General of InterManager, also argued that enclosed spaces do need new regulation, for example, towards the design of the enclosed spaces, and realistic requirements for the spaces in which human beings are expected to work, like entry points, emergency escape points, provisions for ventilation and atmosphere monitoring in the whole space.

2. Fall Prevention

Always protect yourself from failing when working at height or during personnel transfer.

You must ALWAYS:

  • Check if a Permit is required before commencing a task, understand the requirements and comply with them;
  • Maintain three points of contact when climbing or working from a ladder and always hold onto the handrail on stairs;
  • Plan your work and agree appropriate safety measures with your co-workers
  • Check condition of fall arrestors / lines;
  • Maintain situational awareness of other work being conducted around you.

You must NEVER:

  • Start work without a pre-job risk assessment to identify risks and appropriate controls;
  • Start work if you think that the conditions are unsafe;
  • Start work if you are unclear of the safety or emergency procedures;
  • Rely only on PPE; it is your last line of defence.

3. Invisible Hazards

Verify Isolation before working with stored energy and invisible hazards (e.g. Electrical; pressure).

You must ALWAYS:

  • Identify all energy sources (such as electrical, mechanical, gravity and kinetic) before starting a task;
  • Check if a Permit is required, obtain authorization and comply;
  • Treat all energy sources as live until they have been: 1. Safety isolated 2. De-energised 3.Verified, and 4.Locked out with life-saving equipment such as locks and tags.

You must NEVER:

  • Start work without a pre-job risk assessment to identify risks and appropriate controls;
  • Start work if you think that the conditions are unsafe;
  • Start work if you are unclear of the safety or emergency procedures;
  • Rely only on PPE; it is your last line of defence.

4. Working over water/ Access to vessels

When outside of ships rails always wear a Personal Flotation Device.

You must ALWAYS:

  • Wear a suitable life-saving flotation device before working on or around water;
  • Plan your work, ensuring the sea-state is within acceptable conditions;
  • Consider the vessel movement and swell before transferring between vessels;
  • Check emergency equipment is in place, such as radio and flares.

You must NEVER:

  • Work within a risk of falling overboard if the task can be achieved by a safer method;
  • Board a vessel if the risks are unacceptable or you have any concerns regarding safety, weather or the transfer methods;
  • Carry your equipment when transferring over water;
  • Transfer to another vessel without first establishing visual and radio communications.

5. Line on fire

Ensure yourself and others are positioned away from suspended loads, stored pressure, moving machinery and snap-back areas.

You must ALWAYS:

  • Maintain a safe distance from hazards, ensuring you are outside the “line of fire” and understand the consequences of equipment failure;
  • Keep away from suspended loads, unprotected equipment and moving vehicles;
  • Be alert to blasting, welding, grinding, electrical work and falling objects;
  • Maintain a safe distance from lines under tension such as lifting/mooring lines, towing cables or suspended loads- Consider Snap-back areas;
  • Make use of pedestrian walkways and safe zones where they are provided.

You must NEVER:

  • Enter an unauthorized area;
  • Bypass a safety barrier or enter an exclusion zone;
  • Attempt a task that you are not trained or competent to do.

6. Navigation

Obey the collision regulations, supplement nav aids with visual/manual checks plan and execute plan and avoid distractions and fatigue.

You must ALWAYS:

  • Look out of the window;
  • Obey Collision regulations;
  • Comply with work/ rest hours;
  • Maintain a safe distance from grounding lines;
  • Supplement nav aids with visual/manual checks;
  • Execute passage as per plan;
  • Calculate enough Under Keel Clearance including dynamic factors such as Squat.

You must NEVER:

  • Allow accidents caused by fatigue;
  • Accept ECDIS/ AIS tracking information without independent checking;
  • Proceed at unsafe speed in heavy traffic or restricted visibility;
  • Allow yourself to be distracted;
  • Use a cellphone while on Navigational watch.

7. Lifeboats

Ensure own and others safety during maintenance and testing of lifeboats.

You must ALWAYS:

  • Always ensure boat is fully secured (gripes; harbour pins; lashings) before entering for maintenance;
  • Conduct toolbox talks covering dangers , release mechanisms, roles and operational procedures;
  • Have fully trained staff conducting maintenance of boats, winches and brakes;
  • Remove winch handles before launching;
  • Ensure adequate supervision and means of communication;
  • Avoid the unintended operation of on-load release mechanisms.

You must NEVER:

  • Have people on board during test launching/ recovery;
  • Put crew in danger areas when boats/ davits are moving (crushing, etc.);
  • Leave hanging off pennants or securing devices in place after maintenance/ testing.

The amendments to SOLAS regulations III/3 and III/20, introducing mandatory new requirements for the maintenance and inspection of lifeboats and rescue boats, will enter into force on 1 January 2020, to ensure safety of life-saving appliances and equipment.

The amendments were adopted during the 96th session of IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 96) in May 2016 and introduce mandatory new requirements for the maintenance and inspection of lifeboats and rescue boats, launching appliances and release gear to be carried out by ‘certified personnel’ as per Resolution MSC.402(96)).

The provisions aim to prevent accidents with survival craft and address longstanding issues, such as the need for uniform, safe and documented standards related to the servicing of these appliances.

8. Hotwork

Ensure spaces are free on flammable materials and gases before working where flame is used or sparks may be produced.

You must ALWAYS:

  • Ensure all flammable materials removed from space AND adjacent spaces;
  • Have fire-fighting equipment available and ready for use;
  • Keep watch over adjacent spaces;
  • Test for presence of flammable gases;
  • Complete a Risk Assessment for HW;
  • Consider alternative work methods / equipment or deferral to refit.

You must NEVER:

  • Proceed without relevant permit;
  • Deviate from Risk Assessment / permit.

9. Stop

Ensure all staff are empowered to STOP WORK and intervene where uncomfortable.

You must ALWAYS:

  • Encourage a culture where all staff feel empowered to “STOP WORK”;
  • Respect intervention;
  • Thank the person who stopped you and may have saved your life!

You must NEVER:

  • React poorly to a safety intervention;
  • Be afraid to intervene- if in doubt: step forward;
  • Leave it to someone else.

What about today’s safety culture

Wondering what makes people care about working safely? Safety culture makes people about working safely. The term was first used in INSAG’s (1988) ‘Summary Report on the Post-Accident Review Meeting on the Chernobyl Accident’. Since then, a number of definitions of safety culture have been published. Today, safety culture is defined as attitude, beliefs, perceptions or values that employees share with respect to safety in every industry’s workplace. The U.K. Health and Safety Commission developed one of the most commonly used definitions of safety culture:

The product of individual and group values, attitudes, perceptions, competencies, and patterns of behavior that determine the commitment to, and the style and proficiency of, an organization’s health and safety management. Organizations with a positive safety culture are characterized by communications founded on mutual trust, by shared perceptions of the importance of safety and by confidence in the efficacy of preventive measures

In order to know what the shipping industry thinks of the current safety culture, SAFETY4SEA asked experts about the matter a few months ago. The global expert thinking showed mixed feelings with respect to the implementation of safety culture within shipping industry; four out of eight experts (50%) provided negative feedback on the question: “Has the industry been successful in implementing safety culture?”.

Indeed, a number of recent high profile incidents at sea verifies the accuracy of aforesaid results regarding safety on board and highlights why regulators, classification societies and IMO constantly put emphasis on implementing a successful safety culture.

What is the ‘Together in Safety’ initiative

Launched on the sidelines of Global maritime Forum’s Annual Summit in Hong Kong last year, the initiative incorporates the vision of major maritime leaders to create a zero-incident industry, based on basic principles such as sharing lessons across the whole sector and collectively setting goals in a bid to lead a significant reduction in industry accidents. Participants in ‘Together in Safety’ seek the full backing and support from their associated senior leadership and should be fully committed to participate actively in the work and engage with all relevant stakeholders.