As we mentioned in the introduction, a deck barge is used to carry deck cargo and is also used in the marine construction industry for such work as pier or bulkhead construction, dredging, bridge construction and maintenance, and marine oil service. These types of vessels are not self-propelled.
For construction barges underway and other “uninspected vessels,” the U.S. Coast Guard oversees fire and lifesaving equipment and overall navigational matters.
An uninspected vessel is a vessel not subject to inspection under 46 U.S.C. 3301 and not a recreational vessel under 46 U.S.C. 2101(43).
A vessel classified as an uninspected vessel by the U.S. Coast Guard is subject to limited U.S. Coast Guard inspection of the following areas:
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) exercises its authority to regulate employers for all working conditions not covered by U.S. Coast Guard regulations on these vessels, provided that the vessel is in the geographic jurisdiction of OSHA.
OSHA regulations that apply are in 29 CFR Part 1910, with the following exceptions:
OSHA has safety and health coverage over working conditions of employees on vessels and facilities on or adjacent to U.S. navigable waters and the Outer Continental Shelf.
Navigable Waters of the United States (U.S. navigable waters) includes State territorial seas and U.S. inland waters (i.e., all rivers, tributaries, lakes, bays, and sounds shoreward of the territorial sea baseline) that:
The U.S. Coast Guard is the agency responsible for making any determination of whether a body of water is considered to be U.S. navigable waters.
The Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Lands are considered to be:
An employer who is an owner, charterer, managing operator, or agent in charge of an uninspected vessel (including deck barges) may be cited for hazards to which any of their employees are exposed if the hazard is not regulated by the U.S. Coast Guard.
OSHA standards and requirements apply as follows:
Generally, when considering enforcement of safety on deck barges, the applicable OSHA standard depends on the work activity taking place. For example, a vessel may be loading and unloading cargo at a marine terminal while at the same time the vessel is undergoing ship repairs. OSHA would enforce safety as follows:
The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has authority over the loading/unloading of coal or other minerals into/out-of barges or vessels in the extraction, preparation, or milling process.
MSHA does not have authority once the vessel is loaded/unloaded and is underway. Likewise, MSHA authority extends to barges and vessels used in mineral dredging operations, such as mining sand and gravel from underwater deposits, and includes the loading/unloading of such barges/vessels.
Training is an essential part of every employer’s safety and health program for protecting employees from injuries and illnesses. Many OSHA standards require employers to train employees in the safety and health aspects of their jobs. Other OSHA standards make it the employer’s responsibility to limit certain job assignments to employees who are certified, competent, or qualified—that is, to employees who have received training either on-site or off-site.
Designated personnel are selected or assigned by the employer as having the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs), and therefore qualified to perform specific duties.
To control or eliminate any hazards or other exposure to illness or injury, employees must be properly trained in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions. Employees should also be familiar with the company’s policies, rules, and regulations set forth by OSHA and the U.S. Coast Guard that are applicable to their work environment.
Some of the general safety topics to be addressed in training for employees on deck barges are:
The training should address the specific hazards faced by employees on barges such as:
A deck engineer died when she was struck by the counterweight of a barge mounted crane/derrick. The deck engineer (victim) and a crane operator, both employees of a marine construction company, were working from a crane/derrick barge in support of a crew working at a job site on a project to replace pilings underneath a pier. She was welding repairs to a guard railing on the barge’s upper deck when the crane operator rotated the crane to make a pick of pilings from the water. The crane’s counterweight struck her in the head and neck, pinning her against the railing.
Examining Fatal Shipyard Accidents. This DOL video depicts actual fatal accidents, examines what went wrong and shows subsequent hazard abatement recommendations. Shows hazards in these categories: cranes, confined space, fall hazards, improper use of equipment, drowning, and lockout/tagout. Animated, but graphic.
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