.Marine and offshore safety are perhaps one of those areas that aren’t talked about a lot. Perhaps it’s one of those “less glam” parts of the industry. But it’s needed nonetheless. We are here to talk about safety in marine and offshore rigs.
Last year 2nd September 2019, a 75 feet long diving vessel Conception anchored in Platts harbour, Santa Cruz Island. On it was 33 passengers and 6 crew members. The boat caught fire in the early hours of the morning. All passengers and 1 crewmember died of smoke inhalation after being trapped in the berthing area.
Somehow the smoke and heat detectors are not interconnected on the boat. Not especially across all its passenger areas.
“The Conception may have passed all Coast Guard inspections, but that did not make it safe,” said NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt, whose team investigated the burned boat. “Our new recommendations will make these vessels safer, but there is no rule change that can replace human vigilance.”
The NTSB has later on called for all vessels similar to the Conception with overnight accommodations to be required to have interconnected smoke detectors installed in all passenger areas. It also recommended that a secondary means of escape lead into a different space than the primary exit, just in case a single fire blocks both escape paths. The NTSB also called on the U.S. Coast Guard to come up with and implement an inspection program to verify that roving patrols are conducted – as needed – for the safety of sleeping passengers and crew.
Call For Better Offshore Safety Efforts
NTSB investigators found the non-appearance of a required roving patrol on the Conception that has most likely delayed the initial detection of the fire. This further allowed for its growth, precluded firefighting and evacuation efforts. It also directly led to the high number of fatalities in the accident.
Having said all that, it simply means that safety precautions have to be taken on your boats, ships, offshore rigs, etc. It does not limit to just one entity, but a few. At the same time, even though the above incident happens at a private boat does not mean it will not happen on industrial ones.
Role of International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA)
The International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA), based in London, has published Basic Safety Training Requirements for Personnel Employed in the Offshore Renewable Energy Sector.
It provides standard basic safety training requirements for enclosure at contract awards stage. It covers those who are employed on-board vessels during the construction and maintenance support phases of offshore renewable energy projects. The new guidance document includes a vital matrix to aid precision and concise information for the sector.
The ‘Basic Safety Training Matrix’ outlines the minimum level of health and safety training, and medical fitness that is needed to work on (and from) vessels engaged on an offshore renewable energy project. It was designed by a working group of IMCA’s Marine Renewable Energy Committee chaired by Marc van Dorth from Seaway 7. The group also comprised of members from IMCA’s Diving, Marine, ROV and Offshore Survey Committees and the document is published as an IMCA Competence & Training Guideline.
Need For Standardised Basic Level of Safety Training
Captain Andy Goldsmith, Technical Adviser – Marine at IMCA explained, “All workers and mariners require a basic level of training prior to the commencement of work in the offshore renewable energy industry. The new document is designed to eliminate confusion and duplication of basic training. It can be costly in terms of both time and financial investment. It also affects the morale of marine contractor personnel.”
He further states, “The matrix, which was finalised in consultation with major developers such as Ørsted and Vattenfall greatly aids clarity for the sector. It ensures that clearly defined safety measures can be put in place right at the start of every offshore renewable energy project. This is by showing the basic safety training requirements depending on where an offshore worker is located.
“The working patterns and environment for personnel employed in a vessel are significantly different from personnel deployed directly from onshore to an offshore structure. Therefore, basic safety training requirements cannot be generalised and are different for both groups of personnel.”
IMCA stresses that the basic safety training is only one component of an individual’s competency requirement. The matrix does not detail training needed by individuals to be competent in the role for which they have been employed.
Ways You Can Prevent Offshore Hazards
Here are some ways that you can help prevent offshore hazards at oil rigs and/or boats (industrial or private, otherwise). Even though you may not be a professionally trained safety officer, you can still follow these few safety simple steps.
a. Actively peruse PPE that is provided
If your job is a high-risk job, and it requires PPE, then you should be using your PPE were provided (by your company). If your company does not provide the right PPE sets, then do so by pressuring your company in providing the right ones. Anything for keeping your safety at your work stations in regular check.
b. Follow workplace safety operation procedure (SOP)
Every company, work stations, offices usually have their own safety SOPs in place. Having said that, it’ll be wise to follow accordingly. It’ll be advisable for companies to run safety training from time to time. Just in case workplace accidents happen suddenly.
c. Keeping your workplace as hazard-free as possible
Sometimes it’s following the simplest rule or keeping your workplace clean and tidy that helps. Things like keeping flammable items away from fire or high heat, placing liquids in proper containers/bottles, and more that helps.
The bottom line is that safety in the maritime and offshore locations are just as important. It may be talked about a lot, but it really is as important.