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Are you ready for the unexpected?

‘Recovery of Persons from the Water’ was the theme of the combined safety forum held by the Workboat Association and the British Tugowners Association (BTA), during the Seawork Connect online exhibition and conference.

Together they learned from some of the industry’s Operations and Safety leaders along with expert guests as they discussed, from experience, the key challenges and opportunities to the successful recovery of a person from the water. Topics included: practicality; preparations; equipment; manning/training; suitability; and some of the key messages.

Jack Martin, Marine Incident Investigator – MAIB, shared his organisation’s findings, “Our statistics show that in water temperature around 10 degrees, the average time to incapacity is around 10 minutes. Essentially in most cases around the UK the vessel will be recovering an unconscious person, and if not unconscious then at least incapable of assisting in their own recovery.

Of course, we encourage operators to try and prevent crew going overboard in the first place, but the provision of immersion suits and properly fitted lifejackets (with crotch straps if appropriate) will have a significant impact on survivability and give the crew on board, and rescue services, more time to carry out a successful recovery.”

Shaun Mansbridge of Williams Shipping (Co-Chair of the WA Safety Forum) provided a case study of an incident that occurred 13 years ago that changed the way that Williams Shipping prepare for MOB forever. Click here to read the Maritime Journal article.

Tony Wafer, Senior Water Safety Partner – RNLI, explained the RNLI’s stance, “The RNLI takes MOB recovery drills very seriously as we have a duty to ensure we keep our volunteer Lifeboat crews as safe as possible. This starts with personal protection making sure they have high quality, reliable kit for the roles we ask them to perform on the boats.

“For our Inshore Lifeboat crews, they will be wearing full dry suits, thermal protection, helmets, gloves and a manually inflated lifejacket with inherent buoyancy, attached with whistle, personal flare and a PLB. For our All-Weather Lifeboat crews, they will have full offshore protective clothing, thermal protection, helmets (for outside), gloves and an automatic inflated lifejacket, again with whistle, personal flare and a PLB.

“MOB drills are part of the RNLIs emergency operating procedures of which they would have received Sea Survival training as part of their role. All crew members will have a personal competency record, checked and signed off at station level and then overseen by an area manager.

“Crews are encouraged to go to sea and practice their competencies regularly. We will never use a live person in the water as part of any MOB boat handling procedures. Mannequins or a fender are suitable alternatives for this. For the Recovery process once safely alongside, we regularly use mannequins, or if a dynamic risk assessment allows, a crew member can enter the water in a dry suit to practice the techniques. Top tips from our crews:

– Practice mayday procedures as part of this (MOB is a Mayday call) inc. VHF operations

– Speak to the Coastguard if you’re doing an exercise and label your mannequin. It could save false alerts from well-meaning members of the public thinking a distress is in action

– Practice in a few different sea states as the recovery kit will never act as you want it to when you need it

– Ask a Lifeboat. If you have a Lifeboat station near you, ask them for a joint exercise, you never know”.

The key messages of the Safety Forum have been put together on a Safety Poster which all Vessel Operators and those working close to water are encouraged to print out and share with all associated staff. Download for free here

Exhibitor: Workboat Association

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