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Working-on-the-Back-Deck

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[MUSIC PLAYING] The back deck of the work boat is where the action is. It puts the "work" in work boat. The back deck is also home to hazardous operation that can cause equipment damage, injury, and death. Making up toe, setting anchors, transferring cargo or personnel, these are just some of the routine operations that define a work boat's purpose. Most back deck operations involve multiple tasks occurring simultaneously or in a closely directed sequence. It's important all crew members know the objective of the operation, their role in it, and how their role relates to those of their crew mates. A Hazard that did not exist a moment ago may suddenly appear, then just as quickly disappear. A change in the vessel's position, unexpected winds, or other unknowns can find you or the rest of the crew unprepared. Situational awareness is key and begins with identifying existing hazards and contingencies should conditions change. You want to ensure your own safety while at the same time making sure you have the back of your crew mates. In this program, we'll learn about knowing the specific goal of back deck operation, the importance of having a plan, how to identify hazards, why you want to coordinate your actions with others, knowing your job, bringing the right tools and equipment in good condition to the back deck, and how to maintain situational awareness in a dynamic environment. Preparation is key to the success of any activity, and a thorough understanding of the task at hand is the first step. Knowing what the task is, the expected result, and the roles of all deck personnel involved will ensure success as well as the safety of all involved. So when you're making and breaking tow, one similar task is you trip the pelican hook and the safety strap. Well, when you are making tow, the tension of the tow wire and the surge gear is on the tow line. And so when you trip that pelican strap, it doesn't go anywhere. On the other hand when you're breaking tow, that's the last piece that's holding all that gear on. So you trip the strap and now everything runs off the back deck. So there's two completely different sets of hazards associated with, essentially, the same task. The task may be similar, but the purpose is different and others safety depends on your understanding of the process. Back deck operations involve multiple tasks happening simultaneously or in a specific order. Many are routine and ordinary, but there's a saying in the work boat industry. We do everything the same except-- And that "except" is every time you do it. And so there's a lot of little changes that will happen-- different winds, different barge, the tug may drift off a different way. A pre-operations meeting is essential so that everyone understands the full scope and sequence of the task. The crew can't function as a team unless they're all following the same play. Typically, what happens is some person's put in charge. They have a plan in their head, but they don't necessarily communicate it to everybody on deck. And they expect people to just smell out what it is they're thinking. That's not a good plan. A good plan is where you have the meeting ahead of time. You outline all the tasks. You tell people what their responsibilities are. You establish a chain of command, and then you go about your work. The elements include the objective of the back deck operation. What is the team going to accomplish? What's the sequence of tasks to be performed? Who will be leading the operation, and what authority does he have? What are the individual roles, and what will each team member be responsible for? And the importance of communication. You have to make very clear communication that cannot be misinterpreted. And it can be verbal. It could be hand signals, but it's got to be one that's simple and that everybody understands. If you don't do that, you'll create communication ambiguity. And people do not function well on that at all, especially when they're working-- you're asking them to go into a hazardous situation where their own physical welfare is at risk. Even though every back deck operation may differ in some way, holding a debrief when the task is complete helps all team members learn what worked well, what didn't, and where there's room for improvement. Working on the back deck in itself could be cataloged as a near miss because there's so much stuff going on there that could go wrong. So it's good to have a little discussion afterwards. Maybe there's a communication problem or someone brought the wrong tool. They didn't quite know how to use it. But to debrief so the next time they can be better. As we mentioned earlier, the back deck is a dynamic environment. Conditions may change in a heartbeat. A key element of being prepared is identifying existing and potential hazards. Two of the most common hazards are static and dynamic. A static hazard is one that's essentially fixed, like a cleat on the deck. It's a tripping hazard. A Cleat's welded to the deck. It's not moving. And so that hazard is there all the time. A dynamic hazard is one that either moves around on deck or it's one that has variable amounts of tension, so that the hazard is one that changes. Some hazards can be avoided through proper PPE and some are controlled by your location on the back deck. Examples of static hazards include tripping hazards, such as cleats, bitts, and padeyes. Hypothermia in high seas and cold conditions, head injuries from working around and under heavy gear, and eye injuries from flying particles from hammering or cutting shackle pins, nuts, and keeper pins. Dynamic hazards can include pinch points, such as your hand caught between the line and the capstan, or pinned against a bulwark by a tow wire jumping the pins. Entanglement hazards like being caught in the bight of a line, wire, or chain as it goes taut. The bight is stored energy in a line. And it's when you're in an area where when that line comes under tension or the tension's released, the line's going to move in your direction or the wire's going to move in your direction really, really rapidly. And it's very easy to fool yourself that you are safe because you think the line is not going to move, or the tow wire's not going to move. And it doesn't have to move very much to create a serious injury. A tow wire can move this far. And if you're in that little range, it will be like a sledgehammer hitting you. And people-- there have been fatalities just from that small movement. Other entanglement hazards include loose clothing, jewelry, or long hair that could get caught in machinery, such as a winch. Water on deck, especially in high seas. Snap back from mooring and other lines. Loose gear on deck. Crane hooks, and a sudden release of energy. For example, from tripping the safety strap when breaking tow. Back deck operations on a work boat is a team sport. The success and efficiency of the task, your safety and that of your fellow crewmen, depend on all members working as a team. Working on the back deck, it's a high-risk sporting event. And you have to have your head in the game. So not only do you have to physically leave distractions behind, like your cell phone, and music players, whatever they may be. But you have to mentally leave those things back inside the boat as well. So when you go out on that back deck, you are going on to the field and you are ready to play. You know what the play is. You know your teammates. You know the signals. And you can just go to work. Because there's too much stuff going on there and too quick a sequence to have any kind of distraction where you cannot be singularly focused on that task. A poorly-timed release of a line or a safety strap can place your fellow crew and the entire operation in jeopardy. Good teamwork always includes these elements. Have a plan. It's difficult to meet your goal without knowing precisely how you're going to accomplish it. Everyone has a job on the back deck, and everyone needs to know what their job and their role will be. Every team member is critical to the success of the operation, so following directions is another critical step in the process. If you see an accident about to happen or you're not able for any reason to fulfill your role, speak up. The analogy or the metaphor is, it's like a basketball team. And you may have a play. You may have gone up and down the court several times. But if there's not good communication of some kind, then when one person passes the ball, the other one's running the other way. So in a basketball game, you missed a point. But on the back deck of a work boat, if that kind of miscommunication happens, you could cause a lot of damage or personal injury. And it's not just being able to verbally communicate. It's needing to be on the same page with everybody so you all are speaking the same language. You understand the same sequence of events. You've rehearsed it a couple times. So there's a lot more than just verbal communication to establish a good communication conduit on the back deck. Likewise, if you're being directed to do something, especially if the operation changes, you need to listen for new directions. And last, pay attention. Be aware of your surroundings, the movement of crew and equipment, the weather, seas, and every other variable that can affect performance, the safety of your crew mates, and ultimately, the safety of the vessel. You can't be a good team player unless you know your job. Make sure you understand what your job is and how to do it. If you have questions or feel unqualified, speak up. You can have someone-- a mentor can show you what to do. But that absolutely has to happen. Because when you're in the actual operation, it's not a good time to wonder, how does this pelican hook work? There's too much going on. There's too many people that are dependent on-- their safety is dependent on what you do. So you really have to know those skills before you go in there. And you need to practice those and be familiar with the equipment. Jobs on the back deck may require an additional skill set. Some tasks require certifications for the operators, whether government or company regulations require it. This insures the individual has the proper training. If your task involves running machinery or equipment, be sure you're familiar with the specific piece of equipment to be used, such as a toe winch or a capstan. Be familiar with specific procedures used aboard your vessel. Many vessels do the same thing, but different. Make sure you know the right procedure to follow. We learn by doing. A crew member can't be considered fully qualified until he or she has a degree of on-the-job training and performed the specific task before. If any of these elements are missing, you must speak up so your fellow crew members are aware of your limitations and the operations plan can be adjusted. Operations on the back deck of a work boat usually involve the use of heavy machinery and equipment-- winches, capstans, line, wires, shackles, and powered or standard hand tools. Make sure you have the right equipment for the job, and that it is in good condition. You are one of the most important tools of the operation. Make sure you come to work ready to work. This means wearing the proper PPE, bringing appropriate personal tools, such as a pocket knife, flashlight, and headlamp. It's having the right tool for the job. And that is something that requires a little planning. That should take place, actually, before you even start anything where people are familiar with what it is and they gather it up. The proper equipment is also a necessity. Don't bring line, straps, or shackles that are not up to the demands of the operation. Bring your tools in a container so they're easily accessed and won't be a tripping hazard. A lot of people just put them in a bucket. So you can move your tools basically, from one work site to another, depending on where you have to go on the back deck. Big key is to not just lay them out on the deck because, especially if you're out at sea, they'll be waves coming over. They'll wash. They'll go over to one side or the other. You have to have them in some kind of a toolbox-like thing, which for most people is a five-gallon bucket. Rough seas make maneuvering for an extended period of time while waiting for the right equipment difficult and potentially dangerous. Be familiar with the equipment you're using. It's unfair to your teammates to have your first touch of equipment be in the middle of a back deck operation. Always inspect equipment prior to use to make sure it's in good working order. Finding out that a ratchet wrench is broken or the knot on a shackle is frozen can derail an operation in progress. And certainly, if there's a situation where there has to be a contingency plan in case something goes wrong, there should be ready access to, I would call them secondary tools. So a great example of that is if one of the safety straps or something breaks where you need a line right away to secure something. So you need to have those lines readily accessible, even though they normally wouldn't be used in the evolution that's going on on the back deck. Ever-changing conditions and possible hazards make the back deck of a work boat one of the most dynamic and potentially dangerous work environments in maritime. Situational awareness starts with knowledge. It's knowing your job. It's knowing how your job fits into the sequence of events that everybody else is doing. And the third piece is an awareness of the overall context of what's going on. It could be the weather. It could be another vessel coming alongside, a ton of things. But you have to be able to shift your focus from something that's very individual, very focused on, up an altitude to focusing on your teammates as it were. Maintaining situational awareness requires vigilance on the part of all team members. Watch out for yourself, but also make sure you have your teammate's back. There's been lots of examples where people have pulled surge gear up on the deck. And they may have half a shot of surge gear up on deck. And again, someone's tripped that pelican hook, which is holding it all, before everybody's ready, before everybody is clear of the back deck. And when that chain goes, it's like a giant python that's just running out the stern roller and going from side to side. Elements of good situational awareness include paying attention during your pre-op JSA conference. This is what gets you thinking and taking in information. Always consider the what-ifs. What if the tow wire jumps the pins? What if the safety strap parts? What if that load of pipe lengths toward the bulwarks? Don't become so focused on the task at hand you stop paying attention to your surroundings. Look before you act. A quick look around the deck before you take action will keep you in the game by being aware of changing conditions that may require going to a backup plan. Looking out for others protects your fellow crew members and keeps you engaged in all activities as the operation progresses. Operations on the back deck of a workload are frequent, routine, and hazardous. They are part of the life of a work boat and its crew. In this program, we learned being familiar with an operation and your role is critical. It may appear simple, but you should be able to answer the question of why are we doing this simply and clearly. Having a plan is the necessary first step in an operation. A crew can't function unless everyone knows the play being called. The importance of identifying hazards, both static and dynamic, and always looking for potential trouble spots, why coordinating your actions with those of you crew mates helps create a stronger team for your back deck operation. Knowing your job and making sure you're familiar with assigned tasks and procedures during the operation. Making sure you have the right tools and equipment, as well as the proper training before you start any operation. And the importance of situational awareness and the responsibility you have to ensure not just your safety, but the safety of your crew mates. And even though we would like to think there's this nice, constant, orderly sequence of events that will make things happen, it doesn't usually work out like that. And people have to be aware of the fact that things will change in an instant. And suddenly, what plan A was will turn into a plan B. And you may have a different role. You may have a different responsibility. You may be in the wrong place. And you may now have the responsibility of telling people, we got to stop this and regroup. And that can happen whether you're the man on the deck. Whether you're the mate running the show. Whether you're the captain. So people just have to have this awareness all the time of what's going on. Their role, their teammate's role, and the overall context of what's happening. [MUSIC PLAYING]

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Duration: 18 minutes and 21 seconds
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Language: English
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Posted by: maritimetraining on Feb 8, 2017

Working-on-the-Back-Deck

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