Working over the side is a very high risk activity

07 October 2016  |  C16028

Working over the side means a work being performed at a height and involving risk of falling that may result to injury. This circular is to ensure that each person working over the side is fully familiar with the scope and nature of the work to be carried out, associated hazards, PPE requirements, and special requirements of the work.

Ship Owners / Managers / Operators  | Ship Masters  | Surveyors

Shipboard tasks such as mooring/unmooring, surveys, cleaning, maintenance and rigging (e.g. an accommodation ladder or pilot ladder) may require seafarers and other persons to work or access over the side of the ship. Unfortunately these tasks when undertaken in an unsafe manner, have resulted in serious accidents over the years. The items below will focus on working over the side and safety issues associated with such tasks.

  • Proper PPE shall be used at all times. Adequate non-skid shoes to be worn.
  • All equipment and ropes to be used for the job shall be thoroughly inspected.
  • Ensure area is clear of any slipping hazard.
  • Harness and lifeline to be used at all times.
  • Lifebuoy to be kept ready and rescue boat shall be ready for immediate deployment.
  • All concerned personnel to be informed and sufficient personnel to attend the person working aloft at all times.
  • Safety Line connected to the safety harness must have only sufficient slack to allow for free movement of the personnel.
  • Weather condition should be suitable for working.
  • Safety nets to be rigged were applicable.
  • Company / Ship specific Working aloft checklist to be complied with.
  • Electrical connections shall be isolated prior to commencing work on electrical components and EIC to be issued.
  • Display notices/placards prohibiting the operation shall be placed at all controls of ships whistle, radars, MH/HF device as applicable.
  • Whilst lowering any objects, safety lines/buckets to be used.
  • Prior lowering any objects, ensure that all personnel in space are clear underneath.

Two or more persons must always carry out working over the side, one of whom is to be designated the safety watchman and is to be provided with a 2-way, VHF radio allowing continuous communication with the bridge. The safety watchman will be to positioned as to be in a safe area and in full view of those working over the side/ at height.

Weather restrictions

Over the side working should cease during the following circumstances:

  • In an emergency
  • When visibility is poor
  • The wind speed is high enough to make recovery efforts hazardous
  • Weather conditions are such as to make the continuation of the work dangerous

Act now

Ship owners / managers / operators are urge to implement effective procedures for working over the side. The procedures should incorporate the same control measures as for providing safe access to their ships.

Seafarers are reminded that where any doubts exist, no work shall commence until such time as they are resolved to the entire satisfaction of each individual.

Dromon Surveyors

Dromon Surveyors must also take a note on our revise Risk Assessment (QSM 6.1-2) where a new part has been implemented for inspectors that may require to work at height especially at the ship’s side.  Dromon Head Office has also release a new Tool Box Talk concerning this subject.

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