On March 14, 2015, the self-propelled barge Lasqueti Daughters, carrying 17 people, took on water during rough weather to the point that the crew and passengers abandoned the vessel. The vessel was in the process of sinking when towed to shore. Fortunately there was a crew boat being towed and a skiff on board that accommodated those getting off the Lasquiti Daughters.
Many forestry operations are accessed by boat and it is important to consider what procedures, equipment and qualified staff needs to be in place to safely transport workers.
Planning and Procedures:
- Boats used commercially to transport passengers are required to be registered with Transport Canada as well as inspected annually. It is up to the authorized representative of the company owning the vessel to contact Transport Canada to set up these inspections. The inspections involve the structural, firefighting, lifesaving, navigation, and communication components and procedures on the vessel. Crew qualifications are verified at the time of inspection and emergency drills are conducted.
- Research the type of crew that is required for your type of vessel. How many crew members do you need and what level of certification and training is required? The master of the vessel will need the highest level of certification but a trained crew may also be needed.
- If a vessel is being newly constructed or undergoes modifications, have a professional inspect and certify that the boat will be stable and operate as intended.
- Check the weather forecast and postpone the trip if conditions are unsafe. However, don’t rely completely on weather forecasts; bring equipment and clothing for all conditions.
- Have a check in system in place. Prepare your contact person with the appropriate phone lists and procedures so they know exactly what to do if you miss your check in time.
- A supervisor hiring a contractor that requires a boat for water access should get documentation from the contractor that vessels being used have their certifications in place and the crew is current in their qualifications, and are prepared to handle emergencies.
Preparing for Emergencies:
- Realistic emergency drills help everyone understand their roles during an emergency. Practice responding incidents of all types including fires, mechanical failures, and crew that have fallen overboard.
- Test out the equipment that would be used in an emergency. Practice with the emergency pumps, communications systems and life vests as part of the drill.
- Train the crew on distress calling procedures, including the appropriate radio channel to use and the type of information (vessel name, position and help required) to provide. During an emergency, don’t delay contacting the Coast Guard. They can always stand down if the emergency situation is fixed.
- Inspect your boat to make sure the appropriate emergency equipment is present and in good working order. Life jackets, first aid kits, fire extinguishers, distress flares and bilge pumps (or bailers for smaller vessels) are all required equipment.
- Think about the design and construction of the vessel. Is it being used for its intended purpose? If not, will this cause a problem with stability?
- Factors like load, weight distribution, weather and water conditions, and potential mechanical failures or damage to the vessel can all combine to create instability. Be prepared to delay your trip until these factors can be controlled.
Navigation and Communications Equipment:
- Know which route you are going to take and have a primary and back-up navigation device. For example, you may rely on a GPS unit but make sure you have a back-up compass and charts/maps.
- It is essential to have a means to communicate with other boats in the area. An approved radio communication system is the best option but other sound signaling devices like an air horn may be more appropriate for small boats.
Take another look at your safety program. Does it manage all aspects of your operations, including marine transportation? Consider the parts of your business that might only be done on an intermittent basis and consider if you have adequately assessed the risk related to those operations?
- Transportation Safety Board’s Investigation of Sinking of Lasqueti Daughters
- Transport Canada Vessel Registration Office
- More Information on Training and Certification
- BC Forest Safety Council’s Marine Safety Page
- Transport Canada’s Safety Videos
- Cold Water Survival Information
- Print version of this alert