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Safety Drills – An Essential Part Of Your Safety Management System

What is required? How often do we do drills? Where does it fit on our Safety Management System? Realistic safety drills are the perfect training for survival in an unexpected emergency. Done diligently and regularly, they can save lives and help seafarers to survive whatever the unexpected may throw at them. This is also an essential part of your Safety Management System.

Nobody really enjoys emergency drills, and for those which are really worthwhile – those which are unexpected and inconvenient – there is probably an element of active dislike. Diligent drills, which can drive the crew half mad ultimately, save their lives when they have to abandon ship in a hurry.

Drills are done to help surviving the unexpected, the emergencies, which raise their ugly heads in so many different guises, and how resources, training and procedures can help people to do the correct things, almost instinctively when the chips are down. Documenting near misses and crew concerns, can help people learn from incidents without actually having to experience them. Survivability is not just about the adequacy of firefighting, damage control, lifesaving and security facilities; it is also about having the correct resources, training and procedures in place to ensure the safety of the ship and to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of its seafarers. Even in a well-built and well-run vessel, accidents resulting from material or human failure can occur, and lapses in security can result in danger to the vessel.

Those who work and live on board must always be prepared to expect the unexpected, the consequences of which can result in fire or flood and possibly a subsequent need to abandon ship and to be rescued. You also need to be aware of the potential psychological effects of a crisis or traumatic experience at sea, and to know where you can find advice and support. Regular onboard continuation training and realistic emergency drills are of paramount importance, not simply to satisfy the requirements of Regulators or SOLAS but to ensure that, in the (hopefully unlikely) event of an incident occurring, the crew are well rehearsed on how to deal with the situation.

Good training and effective drills can pay off in the event of a casualty. But we should not have to rely simply on good training and effective drills to make survival the most likely outcome, because Vessels should be designed and managed to achieve that outcome. In the risk assessment world it is possible to learn from incidents without having them – albeit the lessons learned from accident investigations should also be factored in – so that physical arrangements and procedures can be designed to facilitate the correct response.

Preparation is about being ready to expect the unexpected, because even though a ship may be well-built and well-run, with a well-trained crew, accidents resulting from material or human failure can still occur; even the best design solutions or operational procedures cannot entirely mitigate the risk of an emergency occurring Tip for running a safety drill: Variety is the spice of life. Keeping drills interesting is going to make them memorable and so increase their long-term impact.

What’s required in our safety drills on board? Each member of the crew must be familiar with their duties and use of relevant equipment and life-saving appliances. Crew shall have access to all training manuals, the station bill, and plans associated with emergency response procedures. Entries in the Safety Record Book (or vessel log book) shall be made when any safety drill is performed according to requirements of the applicable codes and conventions. All personnel shall participate in a debriefing following any drill performed on the vessel. The debriefing should evaluate effectiveness of the drill overall, areas for improvement, concerns anyone may have about their responsibilities, and any comments regarding equipment, leadership, resources etc. The emergency drill could take the form of:

  • Engine Room, Accommodation and Fire;
  • Collision/ Grounding;
  • Man Overboard;
  • Abandon ship; and
  • Emergency Anchoring

The drill should refresh basic safety training and add an element of reality of working as part of a team onboard their own vessel. In witnessing a safe and effective drill, it is important that as many of the regular crew are present as possible. The Ocean Time Marine SMS software will assist with Emergency drill planning, reporting and recording covered in section 8 of your SMS. Frequency of Drills SOLAS and NON SOLAS Vessels

An emergency drill shall be carried out at least once per month. The drill shall be conducted as if the emergency is existent. All equipment shall be utilized to the greatest extent possible during each drill without compromising the effectiveness of the equipment during a true emergency. This includes but is not limited to the operation of pumps, emergency-breathing apparatus, lowering of lifeboats etc. SOLAS vessels please refer to Chapter III, Regulation 19 of the Convention for detailed requirements regarding the frequency of drills, regarding the frequency of drills. Non-SOLAS Vessels please refer to Chapter III, Section 18 of the Non-SOLAS Vessel Safety Code for detailed requirements regarding the frequency of drills.

Australian Domestic Commercial Vessels

The frequency of emergency preparedness training shall be sufficient to maintain crew competence at a level needed to ensure the crew’s rapid and effective response to emergencies at all times. For optimum training value, the period for repetition of emergency preparedness training should not exceed 2 months. (For more information NSCV Part E operations).

Ocean Time Marine has developed a Safety Management System (SMS) Software / Template to assist commercial vessel operators in writing a SMS.

UK Fishing Vessels

It is mandatory that emergency drills be carried out monthly on all United Kingdom fishing vessels over 15 meters Length Overall and a record of these drills should be entered into the vessel’s log book. An entry should be made if one of these drills has been missed along with a reason why. An emergency drill should also be carried out when a new crew member joins the vessel. (For more information see UK MCA Guidance Note MGN 430 (F)) For further guidance take a look at IMO Resolution A.1072(28) contains guidance to assist in the preparation of an integrated system of contingency planning for shipboard emergencies. These guidelines advise that emergency preparedness and pollution prevention should form part of the company’s ship safety management, in accordance with the ISM Code, specifically para 8 – Emergency Preparedness – which requires the Company to identify potential emergency shipboard situations and establish procedures to respond to them; and to establish a program for drills and exercises to prepare for emergency actions.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. I recently started operating a restaurant, and as we all know, fire accident is quite common in the type of business. Therefore, I’ve decided that maybe it would be best to conduct a fire drill for my employees. I agree with you that this can help prepare people to correct their actions before the actual incident occurs.

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