Trying to access a ship or barge for loading and unloading presents several marine safety hazards. The pilot and other crew members need a safe way to get on and off the ship. Workers loading or unloading a barge also need access and fall protection. Even when a worker is wearing a life jacket, falling off a dock or a barge into the water could result in serious injury or death.
Several factors make it difficult to provide safe access to ships and barges:
1) Varying Ship Sizes And Configurations
There’s no standard configuration for accessing a ship or barge, so your gangways, ladders or loading systems must be flexible enough to accommodate different scenarios. Variations in ship lengths further compound the problem.
A tanker, for example, is largely made up of piping, and the crew must be able to line up the tanker’s headers with the dock’s loading arms or hoses. Once those connections are made, your access gangway must be able to hit a very particular spot on the deck.
2) Constant Motion
When you’re unloading a truck or a rail car, they generally stay put. Ships, on the other hand, are always in motion, which means your access solution must have the ability to accommodate the full range of motion that can be experienced, usually while remaining on the vessel.
3) Varying Height Of Ships And Barges
When it’s empty, an ocean-going ship sits several feet higher above the waterline than once it’s fully loaded. This variation in height is further complicated by the changing tides. As a result, you need an access solution that accommodates the changing height of a ship while it’s in port.
Choosing Marine Safety Solutions
To ensure safety and efficiency under these conditions, it’s important to work with a consultant or vendor who is knowledgeable about marine safety and ready to work with your company to find the best solution for your business.
Due to the complex, variable nature of ship and barge access, a one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely to meet your requirements and expectations. The consultant should invest the necessary time to learn your business operations, workflows and parameters, then design a customized solution that helps you achieve your goals.
The equipment used in your customized solution could include:
1) Ship Towers For Access And Loading Systems
A ship tower allows you to make height adjustments that compensate for changing tides and variations in ship equipment, and different mounting options are available to ensure you’re able to lower an access gangway in exactly the right spot. These gangways could be telescopic, fixed or able to change the height location of the gangway as needed.
2) Barge Gangways
A barge gangway provides sure footing and safety rails allowing for efficient, secure access to the barge. Typically constructed of lightweight aluminum, these gangways are designed to adjust to variations in tide and barge equipment.
Gangways may incorporate hydraulic, pneumatic or electric drives, or be operated by a crane or winch. As with ship towers, there are a variety of mounting options for barge gangways ensuring the necessary flexibility to work with constantly changing conditions.
3) Marine Ladders
Ladders that are designed especially for marine applications are often constructed of lightweight, corrosion-resistant aluminum. They may be equipped with handrails and serrated, non-slip rungs for additional fall protection.
In the end, your company needs to have the right equipment in place for your workers to get the job done efficiently, correctly and safely. Choosing the proper solution begins with a consultant who takes the time to learn your business and understand your unique challenges and requirements.
Need to improve ship or barge access while maintaining employee safety? Click below to download this industry guide from Carbis Solutions to discover strategies for a safer, more efficient workplace.