Fire and Electrical Hazards
Fire and explosions on barges may be caused by:
- flammable and combustible cleaning solvents, such as Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK), mineral spirits, and diesel fuel/oil
- liquids with high flash points (greater than 100º F) applied as a fine mist
- airborne particulate or dust
- hydrogen gas generated during cleaning processes
- reactive cargoes such as iron-ore, fertilizer, or incompatible chemicals
Store engine fuel tanks and compressed gas tanks properly, away from sources of ignition. Only keep onboard quantities of flammable and combustible materials that are necessary for operations
and maintenance. Post appropriate danger signs.
Read about why Google’s barges were shut down over fire
A freighter and barge collide in Tampa Bay.
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When dealing with work that is capable of providing a source of ignition through a flame or spark (hotwork), such as welding, cutting, burning, drilling, grinding, etc., follow these precautions:
Barge grounding clamp and cable.
On barges and other vessels, employees who work with or around electrical equipment in wet or damp locations have an increased risk of getting shocked or electrocuted due to:
- exposed energized electrical parts
- open lighting parts (such as broken bulbs, exposed conductors, etc.)
- damaged insulation on power cords
Electrical equipment (unless this equipment is explosion proof or intrinsically safe) must not be used on hot barges until they are gas free (such as barges that have contained
flammable/combustible material including gasoline, methanol, styrene, toluene, etc.).
Non-explosion proof or non-intrinsically safe electrical equipment may be used on a barge after it has been determined the barge is gas-free.
Static electricity can be generated in barge cleaning operations by:
- friction of different metals
- movement of grain
- transfer of liquids
- mechanical ventilation (such as pneumatic, non-sparking, air movers)
- vessel docking
- atmospheric conditions
- movement of water around the vessel
- clothing (such as nylon or polyester fabrics, conductive shoes)
- conductive tools (such as shovels, scrapers, wrenches, and wire brushes)
- high-pressure washing
Electrical Hazards (Continued)
Damaged wiring can cause an electrical fire.
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Follow these safety measures to help prevent electrical injuries and fires:
- Make sure that electrical systems are installed by a qualified marine electrician and that electrical systems are inspected regularly.
- Regularly conduct visual inspections of connections, switches and wiring, which may be subject to corrosion from saltwater and damage from use.
- All electrical tools or equipment should undergo a visual inspection before use.
- All portable electric hand and power tools and temporary lighting systems should use Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI).
- Electrical tools and equipment should correspond with the requirements of the job.
- Electrical equipment and tools should be used with proper grounding and circuit protection for the voltage and amperage used.
- Only qualified electricians should attempt repair of electrical tools and equipment in use.
- A Ground Assurance Program should be in place for all electrical tools and equipment used including:
- records of tools inspected and repaired
- records of electrical boxes inspected and repaired
- records of electrical extension cords inspected and repaired
- recall of records of the above
The requirements of the Ground Assurance Program should be performed on a regular basis.
U.S. Coast Guard Regulations for Uninspected Vessels
Fire Extinguishing Equipment [46 CFR 25.30]
Hand-portable fire extinguishers and semi-portable fire extinguishing systems must be of the "B" type (i.e., suitable for extinguishing fires involving flammable liquids, greases, etc.).
- Hand-portable fire extinguishers and semi-portable fire extinguishing systems must have a metal name plate listing the name of the item, rated capacity (gallons, quarts or pounds), name and address of
person/firm for whom approved, and the manufacturer’s identifying mark.
- Portable fire extinguishers must be inspected and weighed every six months.
- Minimum number of B-II hand-portable fire extinguishers required to be on board motor vessels: one if less than 50 tons, two if 50-100 tons, three if 100-500 tons, six if 500-1,000 tons, and eight if
more than 1,000 tons.
- Fixed fire extinguishing systems must be an approved carbon dioxide type and must meet U.S. Coast Guard requirements. (See OSHA Directive CPL 02-01-020, November 1996.)
Backfire Flame Control
Every gasoline engine, except outboard motors, must be equipped with an acceptable means of backfire flame control.
Fuel tanks and engine spaces, using fuel with a flashpoint of 110 degrees Fahrenheit or less, must be provided with adequate ventilation to remove explosive or flammable gases from the fuel tank
compartment and bilges.
A towing vessel was pushing two deck barges to a pile-driving location off the Louisiana coast. While the vessels were underway, a spud on one of the barges suddenly
dropped into the water from its raised position.
The spud struck and ruptured a buried high-pressure natural gas pipeline. The gas ignited and created a fireball that engulfed the towing vessel and both barges.
The master of the towing vessel and four barge employees were killed, and one barge employee was listed as missing.
Man Overboard Prevention and Recovery
This NIOSH video will help you learn how to prevent falls overboard and successfully recover a person in water.
Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the
module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.
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