Floating vessels are utilized on a daily basis in marine construction. Considering that these vessels will have everything from cranes to large pile driving equipment to thousands of pounds of timber, steel or concrete piling on their decks, inspection of the vessel – whether a barge, dredge or push-boat – becomes critical. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) guidelines are very specific about the floating equipment inspection and certification of waterborne vessels and their activities.
Following are some of their guidelines:
All floating vessels regulated by the USCG should have required USCG documentation that is current before being placed in service. A copy should be posted in a public area on board the vessel. A copy of any USCG Form 835 issued to the vessel in the preceding year should be available to the GDA and a copy should be on board the vessel. All dredges and quarter boats not subject to USCG inspection and certification or not having a current ABS classification should be inspected in the working mode annually by a marine surveyor accredited by the National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS) or the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS) and having at least five years experience in commercial marine vessels and
All other equipment should be inspected before being placed in use and at least annually by a qualified person. Any inspection should be documented, a copy of the most recent inspection report should be posted in a public area on board the vessel. Any inspection should be appropriate for the intended use of the equipment being inspected and should, as a minimum, evaluate structural condition.
Periodic inspections and tests should assure that a safe operating condition is maintained.
Any floating vessel found in an unsafe condition should be taken out of service and its use prohibited until unsafe conditions have been corrected.
SEVERE WEATHER PRECAUTIONS
Where floating equipment may be endangered by severe weather (including sudden and locally severe weather, storms, high winds, hurricanes, and floods) plans should be made for removing or securing equipment and evacuation of personnel in emergencies.
This plan should include:
- A description of the types of severe weather hazards the equipment may potentially be exposed to and the steps that will be taken to guard against the hazards;
- The time frame for implementing the plan (using as a reference the number of hours remaining for the storm to reach the work site if it continues at the predicted speed and direction), including the estimated time to move the equipment to safe harbor after movement is started;
- The name and location of the safe location(s);
- The name of the vessel(s), type, capacity, speed, and availability that will be used to move any non-self-propelled equipment;
- River/tide gauge readings at which floating equipment must be moved away from dams, river structures, etc., to safe areas;
SECURING EQUIPMENT IF NOT MOVED
Extended movement of floating vessels and tow should be preceded by an evaluation of weather reports and conditions by a responsible person to ascertain that safe movement of the vessel and tow can be accomplished.
Work or task orders should be preceded by an evaluation of weather reports and conditions by a responsible person to ascertain that safe working conditions exist and safe refuge of personnel is assured.
USCG approved PFD (Types I, II, III, or V) should be worn by all personnel on decks exposed to severe weather, regardless of other safety devices used. USCG-approved Type V automatic inflatable PFDs rated for commercial use may be worn by workers on USACE sites per 05.H.02.
A sufficient number of powered vessels of adequate size and horsepower, each designed, outfitted, and equipped for towing service, should be available at all times to move both self- and nonself-propelled vessels against tides, current, and winds during severe weather conditions.
Contractors working in an exposed marine location should monitor the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) marine weather broadcasts and use other commercial weather forecasting services as may be available.
The floating vessel should be capable of withstanding whatever sea conditions may be experienced in the work area during the time period the work is being performed (i.e., seaworthiness, or good “sea keeping” qualities).
Plans should be prepared for response to marine emergencies such as fire, sinking, flooding, severe weather, man overboard, hazardous material incidents, etc. (Fire: USCG-approved fire plans meet this requirement.)
- A station bill, setting forth the special duties and the duty station of each crew member for various emergencies, should be prepared and posted in conspicuous locations throughout the vessel.
- Each crew member should be given a written description of, and should become familiar with, his/her emergency duties and should become familiar with the vessel’s emergency signals.
- “Abandon ship/boat” and “person overboard” procedures should include instructions for mustering personnel.
- On all floating vessels that have a regular crew or on which people are quartered, the following drills should be held at least monthly during each shift (unless the vessel is required, under USCG regulations, to be drilled more frequently): abandon ship/boat drills, fire drills, and person overboard or rescue drills.
- The first set of drills should be conducted within 24 hours of the vessel’s occupancy or commencement of work.
- Where crews are employed or quartered at night, every fourth set of drills should be at night; the first set of night drills should be conducted within the first two weeks of the vessel’s occupancy.
- Drills should include, where appropriate, how to handle a pump shell or pipe rupture or failure within the hull (proper shutdown procedures, system containment, etc.) and how to handle leaks or failures of the hull or portions of it (what compartments to secure, how to handle power losses, pulling spuds to move to shallow water, etc.).
- Person overboard or rescue drills should be held at least monthly at boat yards, locks, dams, and other locations where marine rescue equipment is required. Emergency lighting and power systems should be operated and inspected at least monthly to ensure proper operation. Internal combustion engine driven emergency generators should be operated under load for at least 2 hours each month.
- Storage batteries for emergency lighting and power systems should be tested at least once every 2 months. A record of all drills and emergency system checks, including any deficiencies noted in equipment and corrective action taken, should be made in the station log.
Fenders should be provided to prevent damage and sparking and to provide safe areas for workers exposed to pinching situations caused by floating equipment. Axes or other emergency cutting equipment should be sharp and provided in accessible positions on all towing vessels for use such as freeing lines. On other floating vessels (i.e., work barges, and floating cranes) emergency cutting equipment should be provided in accessible positions. Signal devices should be provided on all vessels to give signals required by the navigation rules applicable to the waters on which the vessel is operated.
All controls requiring operation in cases of emergency (i.e., boiler stops, safety valves, power switches, fuel valves, alarms, and fire extinguishing systems) should be located so that they are
protected against accidental operation but are readily accessible in an emergency.
Electric lights used on or around gasoline and oil barges or other marine locations where a fire or explosion hazard exists should be explosion-proof or approved as intrinsically safe.
General alarm systems should be installed and maintained on all floating vessels where it is possible for either a passenger or crewman to be out of sight or hearing from any other person.
- Where general alarm systems are used they should be operated from the primary electrical system with standby batteries on trickle charge that will automatically furnish the required energy during an electrical-system failure.
- A sufficient number of signaling devices should be placed on each deck so that they can be distinctly heard/seen above the normal background noise at any point on the deck.
- All signaling devices should be so interconnected that actuation can occur from at least one strategic point on each deck.
Smoke alarms are required for all living quarters of floating vessels; smoke alarms, if wired, should use the same electrical system as that of the electrical alarms.
For floating vessels with internal combustion engines, marine quality listed CO monitors should be installed and maintained in all enclosed occupied spaces (crew quarters, pilot houses, etc.).
All doors should be capable of being opened from either side and provided with positive means to secure them in both the open and closed position.
Escape hatches and emergency exits should be marked on both sides with letters, at least 1 in (2.5 cm) high, stating “EMERGENCY EXIT – KEEP CLEAR.”
Each prime mover (engine, turbine, motor) driving a dredge pump should be capable of being stopped by controls remote from the prime mover locations.
Shore power receptacles should have a grounding conductor to prevent potential difference between the shore and the vessel.
All 120-, 208-, and 240-volt systems in toilet/shower spaces, galley, machinery spaces, weather deck, exterior, or within 3 ft (0.9 m) of any sink should be grounded and fitted with GFCI
- Cord connected equipment used in any of the above areas should be connected to an outlet with GFCI protection.
- Ground-fault protected receptacles should be conspicuously marked “GFCI PROTECTED”.
Where appropriate, vessels should have watertight compartments readily identified and properly maintained in a watertight condition (i.e., sealable doors in place and fully functional).
Penetrations should be maintained in a watertight condition. All reciprocating, rotating and moving parts of winch gears and other equipment should be properly guarded.
FUEL SYSTEMS AND FUEL TRANSFERS
A shutoff valve should be installed at the fuel tank connection. Arrangement should be made for operating this valve from outside the compartment in which the tank is located and from outside the engine compartment and outside the house bulkheads at or above the weather deck of the vessel.
A shutoff valve should be installed at the engine end of the fuel line unless the length of the supply pipe is 6 feet (1.8 m) or less. All carburetors on gasoline engines should be equipped with a backfire trap or flame arrestor.
All carburetors, except down-draft type, should be provided with a drip pan, with flame screen, that is continuously emptied by suction from the intake manifold or by a waste tank. Fuel and lubricant containers and tanks should be diked, curbed or controlled by other means complying with USCG requirements to contain the tank contents in case of leakage. Fuel oil transfers for floating vessels should be in accordance with the provisions of USCG regulations.
All decks, overheads, and bulkheads, serving as fuel oil tank boundaries should indicate the tank boundary with contrasting paint and be labeled “FUEL OIL TANK—NO HOT WORK.”
Obstructing cables/lines that cross waterways between floating vessels or between vessel and mooring should be clearly marked. On floating vessels where people are quartered, one person should be on watch at all times to guard against fire and provide watch person service. In lieu of a watch person, an automatic fire detection and fire and emergency warning system(s) may be used.
Provisions should be made to prevent accumulation of fuel and grease on floors and decks and in bilges. Swimming should be prohibited for personnel on floating vessels and other marine locations, except certified divers in the performance of their duties, unless necessary to prevent injury or loss of life. A person in the water should be considered as a person overboard and appropriate action should be taken.
When barriers or blanks are installed in piping systems as a lockout procedure, positive means (such as protruding handles) should be used to easily recognize their presence. Barriers should be marked (including name of installer, name of inspector, and date of installation) and accounted for prior to installation and subsequent to removal.
Deck loading will be limited to safe capacity. Loads will be secured and holdbacks or rings will be provided to secure loose equipment during rough weather. Safeguards such as barriers,
curbs, or other structures should be provided to prevent front-end loaders, bulldozers, trucks, backhoes, track hoes, and similar operating equipment on floating equipment from falling into
the water. Whenever this equipment is operating on deck, deck surfaces of floating vessels should remain above water and the entire bottom area of a floating vessels should remain
submerged. Projection and tripping hazards should be removed, identified with warning signs, or distinctly marked with safety yellow.
Deck cargo carried on fuel barges should be placed on dunnage. When two or more pieces of floating equipment are being used as one unit, they should be securely fastened together to prevent openings between them or the openings should be covered or guarded. When three or more floating vessels are configured for stationary work, a competent person should identify any openings between decks of stationary vessels or vessels and other structures that create
fully enclosed water areas (duck ponds) into which personnel can fall. If such openings are detected, means should be taken to protect personnel from the hazard.
- When practical, duck pond protection will consist of guardrails, nets or other physical barriers to prevent employees from falling into the openings.
- When physical barriers are not practical, ladders and life rings should be installed in each enclosed water area to allow personnel to self-rescue. Ladders may be a rigid type or Jacob’s ladder, and must be securely anchored to the vessel or structure. Life rings should have a sufficient length of rope to allow them to float on the water surface and the rope should be securely anchored to the vessel. The number and placement of ladders and life rings should be sufficient so that the maximum swimming distance to them is no more than 25 feet. Ladders and life rings may be retracted during reconfiguration or movement of equipment.
Anchor points should be clearly identified and should be inspected prior to applying a load or putting cables under tension. Anchor points not structurally sound should be cut out, removed, and/or welded over to preclude usage. Visual checks and “all clear” warnings should be made prior to tensioning cables.
Provisions should be made to protect persons being transported by water from the elements.
Vessel fleeting areas will be designated in which all idle vessels should be moored. Such areas should have warning buoys, signs, and lights in prominent locations.
The Contractor or, for Government-conducted operations, the GDA, should provide information to the local USCG Office identifying the marine activity and hazards.
Open or pelican hooks may be used for lifting anchor buoys. Mechanical means such as securing pins should be used to hold spuds safely in place before transiting from one site to another.