Coast Guard safety alerts: Read them!

The title of a recent U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Alert says it all: “Air Receivers & Handlers — A reminder that shouldn’t be necessary!

Did that get your attention? No? Well how about this: “Not long ago, an air receiver unexpectedly ruptured with terrible results onboard an UTV on the Upper Mississippi River. A crewmember was seriously injured and paralyzed.” Got your attention now?

The Coast Guard has to remind mariners, as well as shore side managers and support personnel, to do what they should be doing already. And the Coast Guard shouldn’t have to remind anyone. Sometimes mariners pay attention to these warnings, but they ignore it, at least something happens. “Well, I’ve been doing this for X years and that’s never happened before,” they say.

Air receivers are inherently dangerous because, the safety alert says, “they contain extreme amounts of potential energy, and an uncontrolled release of this energy may lead to serious injury, death, and catastrophic vessel damage.” That’s pretty clear to me and everyone is hereby warned: Read the safety alert and take the appropriate action!

Mariners and managers should be reading all Coast Guard safety alerts and any other related information that the agency puts out. Unfortunately, you can’t bookmark anything within the Coast Guard’s Homeport website where these alerts are all stored, because the links go dead almost immediately. Besides that, the site is not very user-friendly. It’s not very organized and information can be hard to find. That’s why I recommend visiting The Master of Towing Vessels Association (MTVA) website to access Coast Guard Marine Safety Alerts and Advisories, Lessons Learned and Marine Safety Information Bulletins. To check out what the Coast Guard has, go to their Homeport site, click the “Investigations” tab on the left-hand toolbar.

Since the Towmasters site is geared toward the towing industry, it isn’t all-inclusive with the reports. But the important ones are all there since much of the information has crossover application across all workboat industry sectors. You’ll also find a variety of other information useful to towing vessel operations and general safety aboard workboats of every type.

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About the author

Joel Milton

Joel Milton has worked aboard fishing boats, pilot boats, Coast Guard cutters and small boats, dredge tenders, offshore crewboats and supply boats, towing vessels, a small container ship, and a wide variety of small craft including an inflatable yellow “ducky” The Piker.

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