LIFEBOAT DRILL SAFETY ISSUE 2009
1 AIMPE LIFEBOAT DRILL POLICY: for davit-launch & freefall-launch lifeboats
Despite the fact that we won the battle for legislative/regulatory change some employers, or less-informed vessel-masters, from time to time act as if the legislation had not changed and demand that our members be IN a lifeboat during launch, or during raising or lowering, as part of a DRILL.
Importantly, AMSA'a guidance in Marine Notice 12/2007 is of no help at all and may contribute to some employers continuing to make those demands. [see item 9 on page 3]
Therefore it remains important for members to aware of the following:
- AIMPE's position remains an absolute rejection of our members being IN a lifeboat during raising or lowering of a lifeboat [or IN a freefall lifeboat during launch ] during a lifeboat DRILL.
- We are happy to have the lifeboat lowered, EMPTY, to the water and we will go down the gangway or from the wharf to board a service-launch to take us around to the lowered lifeboat in order to operate it in the harbour.
- We WILL NOT climb down any jacob's-ladder/pilot-ladder as part of this process; if that is part of the company's plan to get us into a lifeboat then we will not participate AT ALL.
- Our members adopt this policy because to do otherwise would exposed them to a real and imminent danger: Sixteen per cent of all maritime fatalities occur during lifeboat drills arising from design faults, faulty construction, insufficient time and other resources for maintenance, and operator error all resulting in either failure of on-load-release mechanisms or the breaking of wires; being inside a freefall launch lifeboat when it is launched with less than a full complement on board means that the lifeboat is not being operated within its design criteria; the cross-sectional area of the boat striking the water was designed such that with 18 persons on board the boat would cleave the water gradually absorbing the kinetic energy, but with only two or three persons on board there is insufficient mass in portions of the cross-sectional area so the boat and all those inside come to an abrupt stop. This produces a concussive load on a person's neck, spinal column and major ligaments with each impact contributing to spinal wear and deterioration ultimately render us medically unfit for sea- with the aging profile of maritime employees this is a ridiculous proposition!Additionally, the tendency to conduct a freefall launch at a time when the vessel is free of other obligations [ most commonly when it is light-ship and therefore significantly higher out of the water than normal] changes the angle of entry and increases the shock load. Combinations of all of the above, in respect of freefall launch lifeboats, has resulted in broken limbs, concussion, and/or spinal damage.
- Under the Workplace Relations Act [ i.e. WorkChoices] an employee is entitled to withdraw him or herself from any duty where they believe there is an imminent danger
- Accordingly, all members should refuse to participate in lifeboat drills as set out above and, consistent with their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety [Maritime Industry] Act, they are obliged to counsel or instruct other employees to do likewise.
AIMPE will back any member in this, as appropriate.
to read the full article on lifeboats, updated 19 January 2009, please click here
to read more about lifeboats click Lifeboat Imbroglio!