Water transportation describes merchant and supply ships, tugboats, ferries, barges, cruise ships, and other watercraft operating on oceans, lakes, rivers, canals, and harbors. Training, knowledge of water and navigation regulations, and safe work practices make your time on the water safe.

Operating on water, you are exposed to the sun, wind, and weather. Wear layers of clothing to regulate your temperature and sun exposure. Sturdy work boots protect your feet from getting crushed by heavy gear. A slip resistant sole helps you stay on your feet while working on a wet and moving surface. Consider a heel on the boot to assist with climbing ladders.

Slips, trips, and falls can be serious on a boat. Besides a scrape, sprain, or fracture from a fall, you could end up overboard. Keep work areas clear of standing water. Maintain slip resistant surfaces with special marine coatings. When you work near the sides of the boat, stay behind the rail or clip into a sturdy, rated anchor point on the boat using a lifeline or fall protection.

Get the training you need to do your job tasks safely; ask if you have questions. Wherever water and electrical systems meet, take extra precautions to prevent electric shock. If you use paint, cleaning, or other chemicals, know the chemical properties and hazards of these materials. Use extreme caution when fueling or working around fuel tanks or lines to avoid fires and explosions.

Watch for confined spaces onboard, and safely plan the job before you weld, grind, or conduct other hazardous work. Use caution around ropes, moving machinery, and equipment. Keep guards in place to prevent accidental entanglements. Practice good housekeeping with ropes and lines to prevent severe injuries. Maintain your fitness and use good ergonomics for lifting tasks and the agility to move through tight and moving spaces. Avoid awkward postures during work tasks and lifts.

Follow safe boating practices by keeping a weather eye out; monitor weather before and during your trip. Know what type of weather your vessel (and its cargo) can handle. Keep updated charts and know the operating and navigational rules of the waters you work. Know your boat and its capacity and load rating, load, and store materials in a compliant and safe manner.

Sun and water ensure there is always plenty of maintenance required on water vessels. Perform equipment inspections and maintenance on schedule so you don’t break down. Carry plenty of fuel, tools, and spare parts onboard in case of a breakdown or emergency. Test your communication methods. File a float plan before you leave so someone onshore knows where you will be and when you are expected back.

In an emergency on the water, you may have to rely on your own resources and training, depending on your location and the circumstances. Have the correct number of life vests, immersion suits, rafts, etc. onboard. Keep them accessible and in good working order. Carry enough food, water, and first aid supplies to sustain all of the passengers in an emergency. Everyone onboard should know the emergency procedures and the location of emergency supplies. Learn about hypothermia and how to maximize your water survival and rescue. Practice safety drills if necessary.

The above evaluations and/or recommendations are for general guidance only and should not be relied upon for medical advice or legal compliance purposes. They are based solely on the information provided to us and relate only to those conditions specifically discussed. We do not make any warranty, expressed or implied, that your workplace is safe or healthful or that it complies with all laws, regulations, or standards.