Introduction and Safety
Ships are a running plant and a major number of facilities are provided - the machinery space, the accommodation, the pump room etc. Accidents on board are common and people will have to be rescued from such locations to a safe area where medical care can be provided.
All closed or poorly ventilated compartments, particularly those in which a fire has just occurred, are potentially dangerous. The atmosphere may lack oxygen, contain poisonous gases, or have presence of fire and explosion hazards.
If you are faced with the problem of rescuing an individual threatened by fire, explosive or poisonous gases, water or some other emergency, or if the ship is involved in a collision or grounding or stranding, do not take any action until you have had time to determine the extent of the danger and your ability to cope with it.
Ship’s staff will have to be conversant with all Life-saving Appliances (LSA) gears and practice regular drills in being familiar with the LSA and safety procedures during a rescue operation.
In the event of abandoning a ship, chances of survival can be high, provided a few important principles are followed.
The four cardinal principles for survival at sea are:
Use of Survival Equipment
Life saving appliances are provided onboard merchant ships and include survival crafts, personal life saving appliances and other equipment. The survival craft consists of lifeboats and life rafts. Personal life saving equipment consists of lifebuoys, life jackets, immersion suits and thermal protective aids. Other equipment includes portable radios, SART, EPIRB, line throwing apparatus and pyrotechnics. Pyrotechnics consists of buoyant smoke floats, rocket parachute flares and hand flares.
Safety of personnel and ship
Before a seafarer is assigned to shipboard duties, he should be trained ashore and should be familiarised with the various safety appliances used onboard a ship.
Personnel should be trained in the donning procedures of lifejackets, thermal protective aids, immersion suits, breathing apparatus and should be briefed on the operation of various other equipment. The images show the following procedures of donning an immersion suit and a lifejacket.
Key personnel in charge of launching, handling and operating safety equipment should be sufficiently trained.
Onboard training should focus on training the ship's personnel in the use of ship specific equipment. Training and maintenance manuals should be provided for reference. Instructional training on the “Launching and recovery procedures of lifeboats” survival procedures and first aid treatments should be imparted to all the ship's personnel.
Safety movies will help to weed out any misconceptions in operating safety equipment. A structured training program on operating safety equipment should be conducted. Training manuals, “muster lists” and instructions for onboard maintenance should be updated.
Proficiency in handling emergencies makes the crew’s ability to prevent disasters. For emergency preparedness regular onboard training, instructions and drill for crew is very important.