Water Safety

Posted by Melissa Hall in #YHSafetyTips, Jul 10, 2019

A variety of occupations involve working on or near the water including commercial fishing, on-ship/boat occupations, life guarding, construction, water sampling, and enforcement & rescue.

OSHA Standard 1926.106 outlines the requirements for working over or near water.

1926.106(a) Employees working over or near water, where the danger of drowning exists, shall be provided with U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket or buoyant work vests.

1926.106(b) Prior to and after each use, the buoyant work vests or life preservers shall be inspected for defects which would alter their strength or buoyancy. Defective units shall not be used.

1926.106(c) Ring buoys with at least 90 feet of line shall be provided and readily available for emergency rescue operations. Distance between ring buoys shall not exceed 200 feet.

1926.106(d) At least one lifesaving skiff shall be immediately available at locations where employees are working over or adjacent to water.

Recommendations to prevent water related accidents include workplace examinations, training, and having an emergency response plan in place that outlines what to do during a potential emergency in, on, or near the water.

How to Prevent Water Related Accidents

  • Be aware of the water depth and conditions before beginning work
  • Place equipment a safe distance from water edge
  • Do not travel over ice covered water
  • Equip docks and work boats with handrails
  • Wear a Coast Guard approved Type I or Type V personal flotation device when working around water
  • Keep water rescue equipment accessible and know where additional personal flotation devices and rescue rings are located

Training that is conducted for employees should cover rescue procedures, use of rescue equipment, CPR, and first aid. At least one person on the job site should be trained in proper water rescue techniques and should know the signs of drowning.

Water rescue equipment including life buoys, boat hook, personal flotation devices, a boat for emergency rescues, and an audible alarm should be accessible.

When developing an emergency response plan, the following items should be evaluated:

  • The location, nature, and type of work
  • Details about the body of water – IE: Are there tides or currents and the depth & temperature of the water
  • What measures are in place to keep workers from falling into the water
  • How many workers are present
  • Work schedules
  • Weather
  • How workers and equipment will be transported
  • Procedure to follow if a worker falls into the water

When working on a deck or dock make sure walking areas and work surfaces are clean, dry and free of debris. Secure all gear and ensure stairs, ladders, doorways, ramps, and walkways are clear. Slip-resistant shoes should be worn and a non-skid deck compound should be used where possible.

When working in or near water care should be taken as rocks and riverbeds can be slippery. Always be aware of your surroundings including changing water levels and debris and avoid currents and areas of deep water.

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